Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Medical | By Garry George

Thousands of Frozen Eggs and Embryos Feared Destroyed at California Fertility Clinic

Thousands of Frozen Eggs and Embryos Feared Destroyed at California Fertility Clinic

Dr. Carl Herbert is president of Pacific Fertility Clinic in San Francisco.

The PRW law firm has handled multiple cases in which fertility clinics were accused of destroying or losing eggs and embryos, according to a news release. And a larger group whose tissue was unaffected.

Sean Tipton who is the association's chief policy, advocacy and development officer tells,"We can't say definitively nothing like this has ever happened, but we are certainly not aware of anything". 'Our goal is to provide all the patients we see with some kind of a family.

According to Herbert, the extent to which the chemical failure damaged the eggs and embryos remains unclear.

The dilemma for those involved is that their eggs and embryos have to be completely thawed to determine whether they are still viable, but if thawed, they can not be refrozen.

"What is most disturbing to me is that everyone I talked to has been informed by UH that their embryos are not viable, they've been destroyed, different from what has been out there publicly which has been that they've been compromised, we don't know". The level of liquid nitrogen in a cryo-storage tank used to preserve eggs and embryos dropped, raising the temperature in the tank and putting the eggs and embryos at risk.

In a class action lawsuit, they allege the hospital failed "to maintain, inspect, monitor, and/or test their liquid nitrogen storage tanks". One to three eggs may be stored in a unit. The number of eggs and embryos affected was not disclosed. Landskroner Greico Merriman's Tom Merriman has also said he's representing several patients involved.

Hundreds of patients whose eggs or embryos were stored in the tank for future use have been notified, said a spokesman for the Pacific Fertility Clinic. "But I was reassured that ..."

The incident was the second liquid nitrogen failure at a fertility center reported in the same week. The clinic also has brought in a multidiscplinary team to investigate the tank itself and "every aspect that involves cryopreservation", he said.

The couple received notification of the failure on Friday and over the weekend, were told by physicians that their embryos are no longer viable. The only way to determine if they've been damaged is to let them thaw, but they can not be frozen again.

"They turned on the TV and saw it themselves and thought 'We have just lost our family's most valuable treasure, '" DiCello said.

In the earlier incident Ohio, UH officials notified about 700 patients that their frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged. Some dated to the 1980s. Hospital officials say the lawsuits will not affect an ongoing investigation into what happened.

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