Families in flux as thousands of embryos compromised at OH hospital

Egg Freezing

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

Hundreds of families' dreams of having a baby using frozen eggs or embryos may have been dashed due to a storage tank malfunction at an OH fertility center.

The temperature of the tissue storage bank, where eggs and embryos are housed in liquid nitrogen, unexpectedly fluctuated, the hospital system said on Thursday.

The problem was discovered Sunday morning and happened some time after staff left the previous afternoon, according to Patti DePompei, president of UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and MacDonald Women's Hospital.

In a statement it said it did not yet know if any of the 2000 eggs and embryos could still be used.

'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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In order to see if the egg or embryo is still viable, it has to be thawed out and implanted. Hospital staff has set up a call center to arrange meetings or calls between patients and their physicians to address their concerns.

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. They said in a statement, "Right now, our patients come first".

DePompei stated: 'We are working very very carefully to determine how we can best support them through the process'.

A University Hospitals spokeswoman said the security increase is because of the, "emotional nature of the situation". It has also moved the eggs and embryos to a working tank.

Between 2009 and 2015, the number of women freezing their eggs has jumped from 475 and to more than 6,200 according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology which represents most fertility clinics in the U.S., USA Today reported. Eggs and embryos are stored for a multitude of reasons, including women freezing their eggs while young to aid fertility, people undergoing IVF or fertility treatments, and those who underwent egg removal or embryo fertilization prior to cancer treatment or other medical procedures. Sean Tipton, chief policy officer at ASRM expressed his sympathy for the affected families and said the organization would look into the matter ensuring this is not repeated.

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