Fertility clinic failure damages thousands of eggs, embryos


During a routine check, the clinic's laboratory director discovered that the level of liquid nitrogen in one of the steel storage tanks had fallen too low, which could cause damage to the tissue.

The pair of incidents, with powerful emotional and financial consequences, come as the number of USA women freezing their eggs has soared in recent years as assisted reproductive technology has advanced and become increasingly popular.

A San Francisco fertility clinic acknowledged Sunday that it suffered a liquid nitrogen failure in a storage tank that may have damaged thousands of frozen eggs and embryos and the hopes of people hoping to have children.

The hospital estimates about 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged or destroyed by a storage tank malfunction. The hospital hasn't said whether it would compensate about 700 affected patients, who are being notified through letters and telephone calls. "Our goal is to provide all the patients we see with some kind of a family.We need to think, if this tissue doesn't work, what are the next steps and have you not feel defeated".

The eggs and embryos have been moved to a different cryotank in the meantime, but their viability remains questionable. Once they are thawed, they can't be refrozen. The hospital said it's conferring with experts about why the storage tank malfunctioned. Embryos - fertilized eggs - are stored individually.

The incident was the second liquid nitrogen failure at a fertility center reported in the same week.

He went on to say that the eggs and embryos at risk were immediately transferred to a spare storage tank.

DiCello Levitt & Casey is conducting investigations of potential similar lawsuits at clinics across the country, including a San Francisco facility that experienced a similar malfunction earlier this month, according to a news release.

"This was a bad incident", Herbert told the Post, "but I was reassured that he did everything anybody could ever want to do".

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The Ash family said they still have many unanswered questions regarding the failure, even after speaking with two physicians.

The PRW law firm has handled multiple cases in which fertility clinics were accused of destroying or losing eggs and embryos, according to a news release.

The dilemma for those involved is that their eggs and embryos have to be completely thawed to determine whether they are still viable, but if thawed, they can not be refrozen.

According to the clinic's website, its fees for egg freezing are $8,345 for the initial cycle and $6,995 for each subsequent round.

One round of in vitro fertilization can cost patients without medical insurance around US$12,000.

Herbert is a longtime physician and researcher in assisted reproductive technology. Some dated to the 1980s.

According to Cleveland.com, UH officials say they've increased security at UH Ahuja Medical Center since the incident.

Author Information: Amy Goldstein is The Washington Post's national health-care policy writer.