Thousands of Frozen Eggs and Embryos Feared Destroyed at California Fertility Clinic

Mar 13, 2018, 04:15
Thousands of Frozen Eggs and Embryos Feared Destroyed at California Fertility Clinic

Now couples who had embryos stored at the OH facility are suing.

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.

Lawyers for Amber and Elliott Ash, of the Cleveland suburb of Bay Village, and an unidentified Pennsylvania couple have sued University Hospitals after its fertility clinic in suburban Cleveland discovered a storage tank malfunction March 4 and said last week that as many as 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged.

"It's heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking", Amber Ash said.

The incident at the Pacific Fertility Center resulted from a liquid nitrogen failure in a storage tank that contained "several thousand" eggs and embryos, or about 15 percent of the total stored at the facility. About 700 patients were notified about the incident, and the eggs and embryos have been moved to a different storage tank, UH said. "The medical community calls it tissue".

The Ash family welcomed Ethan, now 2-years-old, into their lives through in-vitro fertilization, or IVF, at UH.

"We need to get to the bottom of what happened", Merriman said. "I think something that sensitive and that precious, they should have had fail safes and fail safes and fail safes". They had spent eight years trying to become parents and were devastated, attorney Lydia Floyd said.

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.

The law firm Peiffer Rosca Wolf Abdullah Carr & Kane announced Monday that it filed a class action lawsuit against University Hospitals in Cuyahoga County in the name of a Pennsylvania couple who called the fertility clinic last week to begin the implantation process and learned their embryos had been destroyed.

That embryologist, Herbert said, "immediately rectified" the problem by refilling the tank.

UH's fertility clinic offers embryo cryopreservation, which freezes excess embryos for implantation at a later date, and egg freezing, which allows a patient to freeze eggs for future use.

The clinic is sending letters to about 500 patients "that may have been involved in this tank", Herbert said.

A fertility expert says that the almost simultaneous storage failures at two fertility clinics across the country from each other are "beyond stunning" but that it appears to be just a coincidence. It has put in place more failsafe measures to prevent a repeat. "We were fortunate to have one son that we conceived through IVF, but we've been told that the two remaining embryos did not survive".

But he says that so far, nobody knows of any connection between the two failures.