Frozen embryos lost: Calif. clinic admits failure, OH clinic faces lawsuit

Alicia Farmer
March 12, 2018

On the same day that a storage tank malfunction may have damaged frozen eggs and embryos at an OH hospital, a similar issue happened at a fertility clinic in San Francisco.

Herbert said that the problem was discovered by the clinic's laboratory director, who noticed during a routine check of the steel storage tanks that the level of liquid nitrogen in one tank was too low.

"Anger is a big part of the phone call", Herbert said. "Our goal is to provide all the patients we see with some kind of a family". He says they haven't checked any of the embryos.

On March 10, Pacific Fertility staff began notifying more than 400 patients who had all of their eggs or embryos stored in the affected tank and roughly 100 more patients who had about half of their eggs in the affected storage tank.

It's the second such failure at a US clinic in a matter of days.

The March 4 incident, which was made public March 11, follows a similar malfunction that occurred the same weekend at a fertility clinic at Beachwood, Ohio-based University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center.

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CBS Cleveland affiliate WOIO-TV reports that a class action suit was being filed by one couple involved against University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.

DiCello Levitt & Casey filed the lawsuit on Sunday, according to a news release from the law firm.

Hospital officials said in a statement on Thursday that they were investigating the incident and that it remained unknown whether the cause there was a human error or mechanical failure. Any lawsuits being filed will have no bearing on the independent review being conducted'.

Herbert said the extent to which the chemical failure damaged the eggs and embryos remains unclear. Only the top layers in the tank were affected while samples at the bottom of the tank were not compromised. Herbert told ABC News that an "emergency filling" immediately took place, and that the tank's contents were then transferred to a fully functioning tank. "We have brought in independent experts and are conducting a full investigation". First and foremost, our hearts go out to the patients who have suffered this loss... we will work with our member clinics to help them take any steps needed to ensure such an event never happens again'.

"This was a bad incident", Pacific Fertility Center President Carl Herbert, MD, told The Post.

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