Thousands of frozen eggs and embryos were likely destroyed when temperatures spiked in a storage tank at a nationally renowned OH fertility clinic, according to hospital officials and reports Friday.
Hundreds of patients at University Hospitals Fertility Center are dealing with some devastating news.
The dilemma for those involved is that their eggs and embryos have to be completely thawed to determine whether they are still viable, but if thawed, they can not be refrozen.
University Hospitals is considering waiving fees for any future procedures for anyone who had eggs or embryos stored, according to WEWS future. They do not know yet if it was a mechanical malfunction or human error.
Patti DePompei, president of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital and MacDonald Women's Hospital, called the situation "absolutely devastating". 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 officials said that one of the long-term storage tank that contained liquid nitrogen had an equipment failure that caused the temperatures to rise temporarily.
Each vile contained two to three eggs or embryos from each patient.
The incident comes as a growing number of women choose to freeze their eggs due to illness, or because they are concerned that the quality and quantity of their eggs will drop over time.
DePompei said in her statement on Facebook that the hospital will go through a "deep investigation", including bringing in experts, "to ensure that this does not happen again". Some of these eggs and embryos have been stored in there for decades. It remains to be seen whether patients whose tissue was in the freezer will still be expected to pay, DePompei told NBC News.
Patients were sent letters on Tuesday, and can contact an hotline set up to deal with the incident.