Freezer malfunction leaves more than 2000 frozen eggs and embryos at risk


CLEVELAND, Ohio- University Hospital officials say they've increased security at the Ahuja Medical Center after 700 patients were notified that the frozen eggs and embyros they stored at the Fertility Center may have been damaged over the weekend when the temperature rose in a storage tank. "We are committed to getting answers and working with patients individually to address their concerns", the University Hospitals statement said.

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.

It is exacerbated by the fact that the only way to determine if the specimens are viable is to thaw them, Liu told the Plain Dealer.

The reason for the malfunction is still unknown.

Patti DePompei, president of the University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and MacDonald Women's Hospital, said the incident happened sometime after staff left the previous afternoon, per Plain Dealer.

The hospital said it does not yet know what caused the problem and is investigating.

All of the samples have been moved to another tank, which is being monitored at all hours and maintained at the correct temperature. Dr. James Liu, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at UH Cleveland Medical Center, told that so far the affected eggs and embryos that were thawed because of already scheduled medical procedures this week were not viable.

Thousands of eggs and embryos may have been destroyed after a hospital fridge malfunctioned. Some of these eggs and embryos have been stored in there for decades.

The temperature of the tissue storage bank, where eggs and embryos are housed in liquid nitrogen, unexpectedly fluctuated, the hospital system said on Thursday.

The facility has set up a call center for patients to arrange and appointment or calls to speak with their physicians.