Frozen Eggs, Embryos No Longer Viable After Hospital Mishap?

Alicia Farmer
March 9, 2018

In order to determine whether or not the eggs and embryos are still viable, they have to be completely thawed, but they can not be refrozen after that.

The storage tank had off-site monitoring and an audible alarm that would alert staff to such a temperature change.

The hospital sent letters to all the affected patients on Tuesday morning, after verifying current addresses, DePompei said.

The organization said it has launched an investigation into the cause of the malfunction, bringing in independent experts.

University Hospitals notified the patients this week, explaining that a problem with one of two large freezers preserving the specimens at the hospital's fertility center was discovered last Sunday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

The storage tank is most commonly used for women storing extra embryos while they undergo in-vitro fertilization, as well as for egg donors, and for women who are delaying pregnancy or concerned about the ability to conceive.

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.

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These stored eggs and embryos may in some cases have been the only option for a woman or couple to have a biological child. An American Society for Reproductive Medicine rep says nothing like this has ever happened at a U.S. fertility clinic. "We are committed to getting answers and working with patients individually to address their concerns", the University Hospitals statement said. "Right now, our patients and families are our first priority".

The facility has set up a call center for patients to arrange and appointment or calls to speak with their physicians.

The hospital has asked patients or those with questions to call the UH Fertility Center information line at 216-286-9740.

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.

With more women deciding on a late motherhood, freezing eggs has become increasingly popular. The numbers since then have only risen.

"Our hearts go out to the patients who have suffered this loss", Sean Tipton, chief policy officer at ASRM, told NBC News.

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