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 unexplained rise in temperatures in a liquid nitrogen tank, first reported Thursday by The Cleveland Plain Dealer, occurred Saturday or Sunday at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center's suburban fertility clinic.
"At this point, we do not know the viability of all of the stored eggs and embryos, although we do know some had been impacted", said Patti DePompei, president of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and MacDonald Women's Hospital, in a video posted on Facebook. "But we do know that the temperature that was measured at a portion of the tank was higher than our acceptable limits".
"We are so very sorry this happened and we want to do all we can to support our patients and families through this very hard time".
UH said it does not know if mechanical or human error caused the freezer malfunction, and the incident remains under investigation.
All of the eggs and embryos have been moved to a working tank, with the hospital asserting that it won't destroy any of them. The line will be staffed by staffed by nurse professionals from 7 a.m.to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m.to 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The problem lies in trying to figure out whether the eggs or embryos are still viable.
A call center has also been set up to arrange personal meetings or calls with physicians.
How numerous eggs and embryos are no longer viable. It's only clear if an egg or embryo is damaged after it's been thawed and implanted.
It is unknown at this time how much it will cost to fix this, with University Hospitals saying it could mean procedure fees would be waived for future treatment, according to WEWS.
"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.