San Francisco fertility patients upset over tank malfunction

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Hundreds of people hoping to grow their families through in-vitro fertilization received word that a freezer malfunction at Pacific Fertilization Center in San Francisco may have affected patients' eggs and embryos. (KGO-TV)

Hundreds of people hoping to grow their families through in-vitro fertilization received word that a freezer malfunction at Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco may have affected patients' eggs and embryos.

"It impacts potentially our entire family structure," said Christina Nelson.
RELATED: 2 fertility clinics respond to egg, embryo storage failures
Nelson face-timed with us from New Zealand where her vacation has been turned upside down after getting notified of the tank malfunction.

"Our embryos may or may not have been negatively impacted and may no longer be viable," said Nelson. "I'm about to turn 41, so that was kind of my only hope at having another assisted pregnancy."

Nelson has been a patient at PFC since 2013 where her daughter was conceived. Her hopes of having another child are up in the air with the announcement.

"It's like you're losing a child," said a woman who was at PFC to start exploring fertility treatment options and did not want to be identified. News of the malfunction has made her doubt the process.

"I'm going to have to be fully assured that everything is being taken care of when it comes to the preservation process," she said.

President of the Pacific Fertility Center said they reached out to 500 of their patients who had eggs and embryos in a cryo-storage tank that had been compromised earlier this month.

RELATED: SF, Cleveland fertility clinics see rare malfunction on same day

The type of failure is highly unusual.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine regulates fertility centers across the country. In a statement they said, "We will do everything we can to understand how these incidents occurred and how we can help our members work to prevent other such incidents from occurring. "

Patients are left waiting for final word from PFC about their eggs and embryos.

Other fertility clinics are now double checking to make sure their procedures and equipment are working properly.

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine issued a statement on the mishaps: "Cryopreservation of reproductive tissues is an essential part of modern infertility therapy. Up until last week, the history of cryopreservation had been a steady string of improved performance and reliability. We have now seen two major failures, apparently of equipment, redundancy and warnings, which have led to some tissue loss, though the extent of that loss is not yet fully determined.

We have not yet had the opportunity to fully review the incidents with the involved clinics and other relevant parties such as equipment suppliers. We expect to do that this week and then to gather leading experts and our own organizational leadership to review those facts and determine an appropriate set of recommendations for our members and their patients. In the meantime, infertility clinics around the country have been double and triple checking their own procedures and equipment to ensure everything is working properly.

Our hearts go out to the patients and staff at these involved clinics. We know these are very difficult times. Indeed, there is angst throughout the infertility community, patients and professionals alike. While no technology can be perfect, and we do not yet know exactly what happened here, we do know that the cryopreservation and subsequent use of reproductive tissue is a technology that has been used reliably for years around the world, and we can assure our current and future patients we will do everything we can to understand how these incidents occurred and how we can help our members work to prevent other such incidents from occurring."


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