A noteworthy glitch at an egg solidifying facility in Cleveland may have caused the loss of no less than 2,100 frozen eggs and embryos, influencing in the vicinity of 500 and 600 families.
The unexplained rise in temperatures in a liquid nitrogen tank, first reported Thursday by The Cleveland Plain Dealer, occurred sometime late Saturday or Sunday morning at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center's suburban fertility clinic.
"At this point, we do not know the viability of all of the stored eggs and embryos, although we do know some have been impacted", said Patti DePompei, the president of University Hospital Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, in a Facebook video announcing the news.
"Some of the eggs and embryos that were stored date back decades", DePompei told WKYC. "Until we know the issue that caused this", Liu said, "we will be monitoring the tank 24/7". About 700 patients were affected, per the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
"Clearly the circumstance that happened here is destroying for the families included, and it's staggering for our doctors and our medical attendants and our staff too", said DePompei. The equipment reportedly failed last month due to which the temperature inside the refrigerator storing the eggs became warmer than it should. Some of the samples were frozen as long ago as the 1980s.
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The organization said it has launched an investigation into the cause of the malfunction, bringing in independent experts.
Between 2009 and 2015, the number of women freezing their eggs has jumped from 475 and to more than 6,200 according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology which represents most fertility clinics in the U.S., USA Today reported.
Samples would need to be unthawed to determine whether they've been damaged.
The hospital has asked patients or those with questions to call the UH Fertility Center information line at 216-286-9740.
Costs for fertility treatments and in vitro fertilization range from clinic to clinic but usually runs to be about tens of thousands of dollars. The cost of the procedure range from at least $12,000 to $14,000.