Malfunction At Freezing Facility Could Have Damaged Thousands Of Frozen Eggs, Embryos

University Hospitals is notifying fertility patients that its refrigeration facility which stores eggs and embryos malfunctioned. It's unclear what caused the problem and the hospital is investigating

Late Saturday the temperature rose in a tank of liquid nitrogen, where frozen eggs and embryos were stored, damaging their viability. The equipment reportedly failed last month due to which the temperature inside the refrigerator storing the eggs became warmer than it should.

According to Patti DePompei, president, UH MacDonald Women's Hospital and UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, these eggs may no longer be viable for use.

In a statement on Thursday, University Hospitals said that it doesn't know yet what caused the temperature to rise, but it's conducting an investigation into the matter. "But we do know that the temperature that was measured at a portion of the tank was higher than our acceptable limits". Independent experts will assess the situation and help University Hospitals understand what happened and how it can handle the situation.

She added: 'Right now, our patients come first.

The hospital said the additional security at all Ahuja hospital entrances began Friday morning and is "for the safety of our patients and staff". University Hospitals says it won't destroy the eggs and embryos, though whether patients will get their money back isn't yet clear. We have already initiated contact with all of our patients to inform them and respond to their questions, and set up a designated call center to arrange personal meetings or calls with their physicians.

What is egg freezing process and how does it work?

The eggs and embryos have been moved to a different cryotank in the meantime, but their viability remains questionable. The cryogenic facilities where the eggs are stored are typically monitored with video surveillance and alarm systems.

Eggs are frozen in order to postpone pregnancy.

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.

At the tissue storage bank, these eggs and embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen according to a hospital spokesperson's statement yesterday (8th of March 2018).

That means the hospital will have to sit down with more than 700 patients and decide how they want to proceed.

The average cost of fertility treatment can be around $10,000 so the financial impact is expected to be significant.

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