Temperature Malfunction Compromises Eggs and Embryos at Fertility Clinic

A malfunctioning liquid nitrogen storage tank heated up, compromising more than 2,000 frozen eggs at a Cleveland-area fertility clinic.

Fertility Clinic / Image: Bloomberg
Fertility Clinic / Image: Bloomberg

A March 9th Washington Post article noted an unfortunate malfunction that resulted in the loss of thousands of frozen eggs and embryos, some of which had been in storage for decades. A liquid nitrogen storage tank at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center in Beechwood, OH rose in temperature possibly affecting more than 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos. The hospital informed roughly 700 patients that their eggs might have suffered damage.

Unfortunately the only way to determine if an egg or embryo is still viable is to thaw and implant it. It’s unclear whether the malfunction was caused by a mechanical failure or human error. The process of removing and freezing eggs can cost up to $10,000, with hundreds of dollars in annual storage fees. The loss of eggs is not only a financial blow; for some families the treatment was their only chance at conceiving a child. The hospital has set up a call center for patients to arrange meetings with their doctors, and may waive the cost of future procedures and treatments.

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