Cleveland’s University Hospital Ahuja Medical Center mishandled more
than 2,000 frozen embryos and eggs in a manner that may have compromised
their future viability.
The possible devastation to your eggs and embryos is traumatic. You and
your family deserve to have the best legal representation, where experience
and compassion are combined with aggression to get you results. We have
a legacy of 80 years serving the families of Ohio, and we are here for
you now every step of the way. We treat you as an individual, we will
not combine you into a group.
If you have been a patient with University Hospital’s fertility clinic
in Cleveland, you are urged to contact
The Lancione Law Firm for a free, confidential case review to ensure that your rights are fiercely
pursued. You can contact us by calling us now (440) 571-6862 or by filling out
The Lancione Law firm shares this article with you and is here to assist
you with your embryo lawsuit against Cleveland’s University Hospital
Ahuja Medical Center.
2,000 frozen eggs and embryos possibly ‘compromised’ after
fertility clinic temperature malfunction
By Samantha Schmidt
More than 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos stored at a Cleveland-area fertility
clinic may no longer be viable after temperatures in a storage bank rose
over the weekend.
A liquid nitrogen storage tank at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center
unexpectedly heated up sometime between Saturday afternoon and Sunday
morning, hospital administrators told the
Cleveland Plain Dealer. While the extent of the loss is still unclear, the hospital informed
about 700 patients that their frozen eggs and embryos may have suffered
damage. Some of the samples were frozen in the 1980s.
University Hospitals does not know how or why the temperature fluctuated
and has launched an investigation to determine what happened, it said in a
statement Thursday. It is unknown whether the problem was caused by a human error
or mechanical failure.
The potential damage to hundreds or thousands of eggs would be a devastating
financial and emotional blow to the respective patients, which include
women donating their eggs, women hoping to delay a pregnancy or women
storing extra embryos while they undergo in vitro fertilization.
The process of removing and freezing a woman’s eggs is arduous and
can cost upward of $10,000, plus hundreds of dollars in yearly storage
fees. And for some families, the treatment is their only chance at conceiving a child.
The only way to find out if the samples are still viable is to thaw and
implant them, the hospital told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Some specimens
that already were thawed since Sunday for planned procedures were found
not to be viable, the Plain Dealer reported.
“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 difficult time,”
Patti DePompei, president of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies &
Children’s Hospital and MacDonald Women’s Hospital, said in
a video posted on Facebook Thursday.
DePompei said hospital staff members have consulted with numerous experts
to “better understand the cause of this temperature fluctuation
and ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”
“It’s devastating,” DePompei told WKYC. “It’s absolutely devastating.”
The storage facility was not staffed overnight Saturday. When embryologists
arrived at the center Sunday morning, an alarm alerted them to a temperature
change in the tank, administrators told the Plain Dealer.
The temperature had increased in the top of the tank but had stayed at
the proper levels at the bottom of the tank, James Liu, chairman of the
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UH Cleveland Medical Center,
“We are currently looking at what specimens existed in that gradient,”
Liu told WKYC. “Our fear is a significant number of embryos and
eggs have been compromised.”
Each vial contained two to three eggs or embryos from each patient. All
of the samples have been moved to another tank, which is being monitored
at all hours and maintained at the correct temperature. None of the eggs
or embryos will be destroyed, WKYC reported, and University Hospitals
has reported the incident to federal regulators.
The hospital may waive the cost of future procedures and treatments for
the patients affected, according to WKYC. The hospital set up a call center
to arrange meetings or calls between patients and their physicians to
address their concerns.
“Some of the eggs and embryos that were stored date back decades,”
DePompei told WKYC. “People move, their addresses change, but we’ve
made our best attempts to track down everyone.”
No malfunction of this kind has been reported at any other fertility clinic
in the country, a spokesman for the American Society for Reproductive
Medicine told NBC News.
“Our hearts go out to the patients who have suffered this loss,”
Sean Tipton, chief policy officer at ASRM, told NBC News.
The number of women who freeze their eggs has skyrocketed in the past several
years. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, which represents
the majority of fertility clinics in the United States, found in its latest
survey that the number of women freezing their eggs has gone from 475
in 2009 to nearly 8,000 in 2015.
Egg freezing has provided thousands of women with the choice to start a
family at a later time. But the procedure is a gamble, and outcomes are
hard to predict.
Up to 15 percent of eggs typically don’t survive the thawing process. On average,
a woman freezing 10 eggs at age 36 has a 30 to 60 percent chance of having
a baby with them, according to published studies. The odds are better
for younger women, but the chance of success varies significantly from
person to person.