BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Two fertility clinics are facing a barrage of complaints about equipment failures that may have destroyed thousands of frozen embryos and eggs.
The clinics in San Francisco and Cleveland both say storage tanks didn’t keep specimens at the required super-cold temperatures for several hours.
The clinic in California informed about 400 patients of the failure, which occurred March 4. It was the second such failure at a U.S. clinic in a matter of days.
When CBS spoke to Elliott and Amber Ash last week, they were devastated their frozen embryos at Ahuja Medical Center outside Cleveland might be destroyed.
“I think that there is just a lot of anger and hurt in the infertility community right now about this,” Amber Ash said.
In a class action lawsuit, they allege the hospital failed “to maintain, inspect, monitor, and/or test their liquid nitrogen storage tanks.” They call the hospital’s response “an utter breach of trust.”
The family also says the hospital did not notify them of the issue for nearly a week.
“To find out that your potential children don’t exist anymore through media is — it’s absurd,” Amber said.
University Hospitals — which runs the fertility clinic — released a statement apologizing for the incident and promising to help patients in any way possible.
Meanwhile, a nitrogen storage container at Pacific Fertility Center in California also malfunctioned March 4, putting thousands of frozen embryos and eggs in danger.
Doctor Peter Klatsky runs a different clinic in California and says if the temperature rises above minus 130 degrees Celsius, the cells are at risk.
“This is an advanced, advanced technology. Whenever you employ a really advanced technology, there’s always going to be risks. When you’re dealing with a singular cell, there’s no room for error,” he said.
A spokesperson for the San Francisco clinic says the eggs and embryos from the troubled tank represent about 15 percent of the total stored at the facility.
The California clinic released a statement writing, in part, “we are truly sorry this happened and for the anxiety that this will surely cause.”