Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Health Care | By Alberto Manning

Family files lawsuit over lost embryos at Ohio hospital

Family files lawsuit over lost embryos at Ohio hospital

Here's the latest on the equipment failures at fertility clinics in California and OH (all times Eastern): 2:45 p.m.

Dr. Kevin Doody, lab director at the Center for Assisted Reproduction in Texas and past president of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, told The Associated Press that the almost simultaneous storage failures are "beyond stunning" but appear to be "just a bad, bad, bad coincidence".

Egg freezing has grown in popularity, with an estimated 20,000 U.S. women who have had the procedure, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. He tells The Associated Press that the failures at clinics in OH and California are "two black swan events happening in the same day".

"Nobody knows so far of any connection between the two failures, he said". He says it's "just a bad, bad, bad coincidence".

The hospital announced last week that about 2,000 eggs and embryos stored in a large liquid nitrogen freezer at the Ahuja Medical Center Fertility Center in Beachwood may have been damaged when the temperature rose in a storage tank. The Pacific Fertility Center said a piece of equipment in its cyro-storage laboratory "lost liquid nitrogen for a brief period of time" on March 4, according to CNN. Herbert says the embryos were later transferred to a new tank. He says the clinic has put in place more failsafe measures to prevent a repeat. A spokesperson for University Hospitals said Monday that the health system is still investigating if human error or an equipment malfunction was to blame. The temperature inside one of the center's cryo tanks rose, meaning the eggs and embryos inside may have been damaged.

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Dr. Carl Herbert, president of Pacific Fertility Clinic, told the Washington Post on Sunday that officials have informed some 400 patients of the failure that occurred March 4.

Last week, an OH hospital said more than 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged due to a refrigerator malfunction.

Cleveland law firm Peiffer Rosca Wolf Abdullah Carr & Kane (PRW) has filed a class action lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas Cuyahoga County on behalf of a Pennsylvania couple and another estimated 700 victims. The couple has a 2-year-old son conceived through in-vitro fertilization, and hoped to bring him a genetic sibling.

While the extent of the damage in both scenarios is unclear, the potential damage to eggs in both incidents would be a financial and emotional blow to the fertility patients, including women storing embryos, women donating their eggs and women seeking to delay a pregnancy.

Herbert says the clinic's staff thawed a few eggs and found they remain viable, but they have not checked any of the embryos.

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