For families struggling to conceive, the loss of eggs and embryos they thought were safely stored at a fertility clinic can be devastating. This nightmare came true earlier this year when 4,000 frozen eggs and embryos were compromised due to storage tank failures.
According to a recent NBC News article, a doctor at the Columbia University Fertility Center took it upon himself to prevent future storage losses and developed a custom weight-based safety system to do the job.
Current storage systems rely on thermometers to monitor the internal temperature, and they trigger alarms when the temperature starts to rise. However, by that time it’s already too late; nearly all of the nitrogen needs to be depleted for the temperature to begin to rise. The new system sends an alert when the weight of the tank starts to drop, indicating the nitrogen is leaking. This gives clinics anywhere from a month to a few more hours notice than the temperature system, greatly increasing the likelihood of a rescue mission.