Family files lawsuit over lost embryos at University Hospitals

Laverne Higgins
March 12, 2018

Women freeze eggs in order to postpone pregnancy until a later date or to have a supply for in vitro fertilization attempts. The clinic in San Francisco said it will write to the 500 patients that may have been involved in the tank incident. And a larger group whose tissue was unaffected. "Anger is a big part of the phone call", he said. "Our goal is to provide all the patients we see with some kind of a family".

According to Herbert, the extent to which the chemical failure damaged the eggs and embryos remains unclear.

Amber and Elliott Ash, of Bay Village, say they had two embryos stored at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center's suburban fertility clinic after Elliott's cancer diagnosis in 2003.

The Pennsylvania couple's lawsuit against University Hospitals in Cleveland says they were beginning the process last week of transferring the frozen embryo when they later were told something went wrong. The hospital said it's conferring with experts about why the storage tank malfunctioned. One to three eggs may be stored in a unit. The number of eggs and embryos affected was not disclosed. The couple have had their embryos stored at UH since 2014, paying about $400 a year for the service.

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.

'I'm not sure what to do next, ' Elliott said.

It is the second clinic to report a fault that weekend. Herbert said the problem was "immediately rectified", and he also praised the clinic's decision to replace the troubled tank with the new one.

"At this point, we do not know the viability of all the stored eggs and embryos, although we do know some have been impacted", DePompei said in a video statement posted on Facebook. Staff members at the clinic then spent days going through patient records to verify which patients were affected.

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According to the clinic's website, its fees for egg freezing are $8,345 for the initial cycle and $6,995 for each subsequent round.

Samples would need to be unthawed to determine whether they've been damaged.

"With two apparently happening on the same day, we have to find out what other types of commonalities there were", he said.

Herbert is a longtime physician and researcher in assisted reproductive technology.

A class action lawsuit is set to be filed against University Hospitals Fertility Center Sunday.

Last week, an OH hospital said more than 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged due to a refrigerator malfunction. Some dated to the 1980s.

"We are incredibly sorry this happened", the hospital said in a statement.

Author Information: Amy Goldstein is The Washington Post's national health-care policy writer.

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