Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Health Care | By Alberto Manning

University Hospitals statement concerning fertility clinic

University Hospitals statement concerning fertility clinic

Temperatures unexpectedly fluctuated in the liquid nitrogen storage bank at the University Hospitals Fertility Clinic where the eggs and embryos were stored, according to a University Hospitals statement. Some of the samples were frozen as long ago as the 1980s. University Hospitals says it won't destroy the eggs and embryos, though whether patients will get their money back isn't yet clear.

UH said it does not know if mechanical or human error caused the freezer malfunction, and the incident remains under investigation. Eggs and embryos are stored for a multitude of reasons, including women freezing their eggs while young to aid fertility, people undergoing IVF or fertility treatments, and those who underwent egg removal or embryo fertilization prior to cancer treatment or other medical procedures. Storage for embryos also cost hundreds of dollars from year to year but have shown to last in the freezer process for decades.

Patti DePompei, president of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital and MacDonald Women's Hospital, calls the situation "absolutely devastating". When embryologists arrived at the center Sunday morning, an alarm alerted them to a temperature change in the tank, administrators told the Plain Dealer.

All of the samples have been moved to another tank, which is being monitored at all hours and maintained at the correct temperature.

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The incident comes as a growing number of women choose to freeze their eggs due to illness, or because they are concerned that the quality and quantity of their eggs will drop over time. About 2,000 eggs and embryos from 700 patients are stored there.

The hospital said it does not yet know what caused the problem and is investigating.

"We are so very sorry this happened and we want to do all that we can to support our patients and families through this very hard time", DePompei said a video posted on Facebook Thursday.

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