San Francisco, Cleveland fertility clinics experience rare malfunction on same day

The nitrogen level in one tank fell very low, according to Dr. Carl Herbert, the fertility clinic's president.

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.

A San Francisco fertility clinic experienced a rare malfunction that could potentially affect patients' eggs and embryos on the same day that a clinic in Cleveland suffered a similar problem, ABC News reports.

The pair of incidents, with powerful emotional and financial consequences, come as the number of US women freezing their eggs has soared in recent years as assisted reproductive technology has advanced and become increasingly popular. Herbert told ABC News that an "emergency filling" immediately took place, and that the tank's contents were then transferred to a fully functioning tank.

According to Herbert, the extent to which the chemical failure damaged the eggs and embryos remains unclear. The hospital notified patients Tuesday. "We need to think, if this tissue doesn't work, what are the next steps and have you not feel defeated". Once they are thawed, they can't be refrozen.

The lawsuit, posted on WKYC Channel 3, was filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, is seeking damages in "excess of $25,000".

"This was a bad incident", Pacific Fertility Center President Carl Herbert, MD, told The Post. In the wake of the San Francisco incident, Herbert said the clinic has begun a conscientious letter-writing campaign to about 500 of the clinic's patients "that may have been involved in this tank".

According to WEWS, Amber Ash says she and her husband were notified of the freezer malfunction on Friday and told their embryos are no longer viable. While the staff spent days sorting through records to verify which patients' tissue was inside, he said they do not yet know how many of them were still planning to use it. Patients typically pay about $12,000 without insurance for in vitro fertilization.

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. He moved to San Francisco in 1990 and, with colleagues, purchased Pacific Fertility Center nine years later.

After the Cleveland incident, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine released a statement saying that the cryogenic failure and "potential loss of eggs and embryos at University Hospitals Fertility Center in Cleveland is a tragedy". Some dated to the 1980s.

"We are incredibly sorry this happened", the hospital said in a statement.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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