A San Francisco fertility clinic acknowledged Sunday that it suffered a liquid nitrogen failure in a storage tank that may have damaged thousands of frozen eggs and embryos and the hopes of people hoping to have children.
Two fertility clinics across the country from each other experienced equipment failures on the same day that may have damaged hundreds of frozen eggs and embryos, something that a fertility expert called a stunning coincidence and that is already producing lawsuits from crestfallen couples. Dr. Carl Herbert is president of Pacific Fertility Clinic in San Francisco.
In order to check viability, the eggs and embryos have to be thawed and then implanted.
The law firm Peiffer Rosca Wolf Abdullah Carr & Kane (PRW), which has handled a number cases involving embryo loss and related issues pertaining to fertility clinics, filed suit in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on Monday on behalf of a Pennsylvania couple and 700 other patients affected by University Hospital's faulty freezer. "Our goal is to provide all the patients we see with some kind of a family". He said that the clinic's staff thawed a few eggs and found that they remain viable, though they do not know how many are still usable.
During the overnight hours of March 3 and 4, one the centers egg and embryo liquid nitrogen storage tanks began to warm up.
The hospital started contacting each of the families last week to determine how they would like to proceed with their eggs and embryos.
"This was a bad incident", Pacific Fertility Center President Carl Herbert, MD, told The Post. Another filled tank replaced it, and the tissue specimens were transferred. They amounted to an estimated 10 to 15 percent of the total stored at the facility, according to Pacific Fertility Clinic spokesperson Alden Romney.
The clinic in California informed about 400 patients of the failure, which occurred March 4. They said they were told over the weekend that their embryos are no longer viable.
According to the Pacific Fertility website, egg-freezing costs $8,345 for the first round and $6,995 for each subsequent round.
An Ohio family has filed a class action lawsuit against the hospital where officials estimate about 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged by a storage tank malfunction.
"We are so very sorry, we want to do all that we can to support them and we will stand by to answer questions and address them, understanding that we may not have all of those answers right now", DePompei said. UH officials say the lawsuit will not affect an ongoing independent review into the malfunction. Some dated to the 1980s.