Security increased at UH Ahuja Fertility Center after egg, embryo freezer 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 hospital began notifying patients Tuesday.

The only way to check if an egg or embryo is viable is to thaw it, which is only done when it is to be used imminently.

Embryologists who arrived at the center on Sunday morning were alerted by an alarm that the temperature of the tank had increased, administrators told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Plain Dealer reports Patti DePompei, president of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital and MacDonald Women's Hospital, calls the situation "absolutely devastating". They do not know yet if it was a mechanical malfunction or human error.

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".

The womb-wrenching flub was caused when heat levels unexpectedly rose inside a liquid nitrogen tank at the fertility center, "compromising" up to 2,000 eggs and embryos, DePompei admitted in a Facebook post. There has been a temperature fluctuation that may have damaged the stored eggs they said. Dr. James Liu, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at UH Cleveland Medical Center, told that so far the affected eggs and embryos that were thawed because of already scheduled medical procedures this week were not viable.

All of the samples have been moved to another storage tank. None of the eggs or embryos will be destroyed, WKYC reported, and University Hospitals has reported the incident to federal regulators. Hospital staff has set up a call center to arrange meetings or calls between patients and their physicians to address their concerns.

'At this time, we don't yet know the viability of these eggs and embryos'.

The news came to patients in the form of a letter on Thursday.