Malfunction At Freezing Facility Could Have Damaged Thousands Of Frozen Eggs, Embryos

University Hospitals

The temperature of the tissue storage bank, where eggs and embryos are housed in liquid nitrogen, unexpectedly fluctuated, the hospital system said on Thursday.

The problem was discovered Sunday morning and happened some time after staff left the previous afternoon, according to Patti DePompei, president of UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and MacDonald Women's Hospital.

Some of the eggs and embryos had been stored for decades.

"We don't know the reasons why yet", DePompei said.

University Hospitals issued a statement saying independent experts are being consulted to determine the cause of the malfunction.

All of the eggs and embryos have been moved to a working tank, with the hospital asserting that it won't destroy any of them.

More than 2,000 embryos are believed to be compromised affecting at least 700 families, CNN reported, and the hospital said it's notifying patients with letters and phone calls and has set up a hotline for patient concerns.

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Hospital officials say more than 500 patients were affected, including some that provided samples in the 1980's.

A call center has also been set up to arrange personal meetings or calls with physicians.

University Clinic adds that it plans on doing the right thing by its patients and their families, but doesn't go into detail as to what that would entail. These eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and taken to a laboratory where they are cooled to subzero temperatures in a liquid nitrogen tank.

Now at 28, Katelynn considered those 10 eggs and four embryos her future.

"We're working very, very hard to try to support them through what is understandably incredibly challenging situation, and we're working very hard to come up with more definitive answers for specific questions they may have as it relates to their own family", DePompei said. They must be completely thawed to determine viability, but then can not be refrozen.

This is a representational image showing a technician opening a vessel containing women's frozen egg cells in Amsterdam, April 6, 2011.

With more women deciding on a late motherhood, freezing eggs has become increasingly popular. The costs of freezing eggs is somewhere around $12,000 to $14,000.

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