CLEVELAND (AP) — An Ohio hospital where approximately 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged by a storage tank malfunction has apologized to patients and said it will do "everything possible to address the situation."
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.
"We are incredibly sorry this happened," the hospital said in a statement. "We are committed to getting answers and working with patients individually to address their concerns."
One round of in vitro fertilization can cost patients without medical insurance around $12,000. The hospital hasn’t said whether it would compensate about 700 affected patients, who are being notified through letters and telephone calls.
Some of the samples date to the 1980s, said Dr. James Liu, head of the hospital’s obstetrics and gynecology department.
Patti DePompei, president of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and MacDonald Women’s Hospital, called the situation "absolutely devastating."
"At this point, we do not know the viability of all the stored eggs and embryos, although we do know some have been impacted," DePompei said in a video statement posted on Facebook.
Samples would need to be unthawed to determine whether they’ve been damaged. Specimens unfrozen for scheduled procedures this week were not viable, The Plain Dealer reported.
Employees were alerted to the problem by an alarm when they arrived for work Sunday morning. No one was working at the facility overnight Saturday.
All of the samples have been moved to another storage tank that’s being monitored by staff round the clock. The hospital said it’s conferring with experts about why the storage tank malfunctioned.
This story has been corrected to show that around 700 patients are affected, not 500 patients.