2nd lawsuit filed over lost embryos at OH fertility clinic


Officials at the University Hospital Fertility Center in Cleveland said Thursday that a similar failure may have damaged 2,000 eggs and embryos. The hospital hasn't said whether it would compensate about 700 affected patients, who are being notified through letters and telephone calls.

"There was a gradient between the top of the cryo tank and the bottom and the bottom stayed at the proper levels so we are now looking at what specimens existed in that gradient, but obviously our concern is that there is potentially compromised embryos and our fear is a significant number of embryos and eggs have been compromised", Dr. Liu said. The increased temperature risks damage to the eggs and embryos.

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.

In a class action lawsuit, they allege the hospital failed "to maintain, inspect, monitor, and/or test their liquid nitrogen storage tanks". Pacific Fertility said in a statement that "the vast majority of the eggs and embryos in the lab were unaffected, and the facility is operating securely". In the case in OH, the facility said the only way to determine the viability of the eggs and the embryos of 700 patients is to fully thaw them. They amounted to an estimated 10 to 15 percent of the total stored at the facility, according to Pacific Fertility Clinic spokesperson Alden Romney.

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It is the second clinic to report a fault that weekend. Herbert says the embryos were later transferred to a new tank. The clinic also has brought in a multidiscplinary team to investigate the tank itself and "every aspect that involves cryopreservation", he said.

"Never in their worst nightmares does that embryo become not viable because of conduct or misconduct of the clinic", Wolf said. Staff members at the clinic then spent days going through patient records to verify which patients were affected.

According to the Pacific Fertility website, egg-freezing costs $8,345 for the first round and $6,995 for each subsequent round.

Samples would need to be unthawed to determine whether they've been damaged.

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"We are so very sorry, we want to do all that we can to support them and we will stand by to answer questions and address them, understanding that we may not have all of those answers right now", DePompei said.

Herbert is a longtime physician and researcher in assisted reproductive technology. He moved to San Francisco in 1990 and, with colleagues, purchased Pacific Fertility Center nine years later.

An Ohio family has filed a class action lawsuit against the hospital where officials estimate about 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged by a storage tank malfunction. Some samples date to the 1980s.

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