Frozen embryos lost: Calif. clinic admits failure, OH clinic faces lawsuit

Leslie Hanson
March 12, 2018

A San Francisco fertility clinic says that a problem with the liquid nitrogen in one of its storage tanks may have damaged thousands of frozen eggs and embryos, triggering calls and letters to more than 400 concerned patients of the Pacific Fertility Center.

On March 10, Pacific Fertility staff began notifying more than 400 patients who had all of their eggs or embryos stored in the affected tank and roughly 100 more patients who had about half of their eggs in the affected storage tank. Officials at University Hospital Fertility Center in Cleveland said that a storage tank failure may have damaged about 2,000 eggs and embryos. Dr. Carl Herbert, president and medical director at the Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco, told ABC News that in his 35 years of Cryopreservation it is an "an unusual event" where two clinics and two liquid nitrogen storage tanks where the tissues are stored "failed".

About 500 people, who had eggs or embryos stored in the affected tank, were notified, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday. The failure was discovered by the clinic's lab director, who noticed the level of liquid nitrogen in one of its steel storage tanks was too low, which resulted in a temperature increase. Others, whose specimens were unaffected, were also notified.

"This was a bad incident", Herbert told the Post, "but I was reassured that he did everything anybody could ever want to do". "So my hopes are that for my patients, they'll be OK".

Independent experts were conducting a full investigation, and all clinic equipment had been inspected, the statement said, adding: "We are truly sorry this happened and for the anxiety that this will surely cause".

Herbert told the newspaper his discussions with patients were emotional.

Clinic spokesman Alden Romney told the Post the eggs and embryos from the troubled tank represent as much as 15 percent of the total stored at the facility.

The statement did not say whether the error was mechanical or was caused by a clinic worker, nor did it say how many eggs and embryos were damaged.

According to the Pacific Fertility website, egg-freezing costs $8,345 for the first round and $6,995 for each subsequent round. With two occurring nearly simultaneously, he said, further investigation is necessary. "There are a lot of questions we need to find out answers to so we can prevent these occurrences from happening again".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

Discuss This Article