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

EMBED </>More Videos

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. (Shutterstock)

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.

Officials say approximately 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged due to the storage tank malfunction at the Ohio hospital fertility clinic.

The Plain Dealer reports Patti DePompei, president of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital and MacDonald Women's Hospital, calls the situation "absolutely devastating." She says temperatures in one of the two liquid nitrogen tanks storing specimens at University Hospitals' fertility clinic in suburban Cleveland rose above acceptable limits overnight Saturday for unknown reasons.

Hospital officials say about 700 patients are affected. Some samples date to the 1980s. The hospital began notifying patients Tuesday.

All of the samples have been moved to another storage tank.

Patients typically pay about $12,000 without insurance for in vitro fertilization. It's not clear how the affected patients will be compensated.

Dr. Carl Herbert, president and medical director at the Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco, told ABC News that in his 35 years of Cryopreservation it is an "an unusual event" where two clinics and two liquid nitrogen storage tanks where the tissues are stored "failed."

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."

If you were possibly affected by the malfunction and would like to arrange for a call with your doctor, please call 855-215-5874. The phone line will be open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. PT.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine released this statement:

"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."
Related Topics:
healthfertilitybirthscienceu.s. & worldSan FranciscoOhio
(Copyright ©2018 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)