Thousands of eggs, embryos possibly damaged at OH hospital

Egg Freezing

Eggs stored at a fertility clinic in danger due to a malfunction

University Hospitals Fertility Center's storage bank at Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood was compromised last weekend when it "experienced unexpected temperature fluctuations" in the liquid nitrogen storage bank that holds stored eggs and embryos, said Patti DePompei, president of UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and UH MacDonald Women's Hospital.

Patti DePompei, president of UH MacDonald Women's Hospital and UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, told NBC News this malfunction may have caused damage to numerous eggs and embryos - some of which have been stored for decades.

"At this point, we do not know the viability of all the stored eggs and embryos, although we do know some have been impacted", DePompei said in a video statement posted on Facebook.

No malfunction of this kind has been reported at any other fertility clinic in the country, a spokesperson for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine told NBC News. "But we do know that the temperature that was measured at a portion of the tank was higher than our acceptable limits".

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No one was working at the facility overnight Saturday.

Approximately 500 to 600 families were affected by the malfunction and University Hospitals have begun the tedious task of reaching out to all the families to see how they wish to proceed.

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

DePompei said the hospital sent letters to all the affected patients on Tuesday morning, after verifying current addresses. Hospital staff has set up a call center to arrange meetings or calls between patients and their physicians to address their concerns. "Right now, our patients and families are our first priority".

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This is a representational image showing a technician opening a vessel containing women's frozen egg cells in Amsterdam, April 6, 2011.

As of now these eggs and embryos have been moved to a working tank.

On average, freezing eggs can cost between $12,000 and $14,000.

Costs for fertility treatments and in vitro fertilization range from clinic to clinic but usually runs to be about tens of thousands of dollars. The only way to know if they are still viable is to implant them says the hospital.

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