Failures put fertility centers in the spotlight

Ohio couple is suing fertility clinic over damaged embryos after storage failure

The first class-action lawsuit was filed Sunday on behalf of OH couple Amber and Elliott Ash after Amber's mother alerted the couple last Thursday to news coverage of the malfunction at University Hospital Fertility Center in Cleveland, attorney Robert F. Dicello told ABC News.

Plaintiffs attorney Tom Merriman said he met with multiple clients Monday, and received at least 15 emails from among the 700 people whose frozen eggs and embryos were thawed after a storage tank malfunction at the hospital's Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood last week.

The California clinic released a statement writing, in part, "we are truly sorry this happened and for the anxiety that this will surely cause". And a larger group whose tissue was unaffected. "Our goal is to provide all the patients we see with some kind of a family.We need to think, if this tissue doesn't work, what are the next steps and have you not feel defeated". Thousands of eggs and embryos may have been damaged when liquid nitrogen levels in freezers dropped too low. "Everyone who has talked to their doctor has been told 'your embryos are not viable.' It appears this is far more catastrophic than what was originally reported". They have not checked any of the embryos, he said. Embryos - fertilized eggs - are stored individually.

Now couples who had embryos stored at the OH facility are suing. "This was a awful incident", Herbert said, "but I was reassured that.he did everything anybody could ever want to do".

A fertility expert says that the almost simultaneous storage failures at two fertility clinics across the country from each other are "beyond stunning" but that it appears to be just a coincidence. The clinic also has brought in a multidiscplinary team to investigate the tank itself and "every aspect that involves cryopreservation", he said.

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"As soon as the issue was discovered, our most senior embryologists took immediate action to transfer those tissues from the affected equipment to a new piece of equipment".

The family also says the hospital did not notify them of the issue for almost a week.

According to the National Institute of Health, the cost of freezing and storing eggs can be as high as $10,000 per year.

"We just want to hold UH accountable, that they should make this right", said UH patient Kate Plants. He moved to San Francisco in 1990 and, with colleagues, purchased Pacific Fertility Center nine years later.

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". Some of the samples date to the 1980s, said Dr. James Liu, head of the hospital's obstetrics and gynecology department. UH officials said the lawsuit would not affect an ongoing independent review into the malfunction.

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