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CLEVELAND, OH (CBSMiami) — Hundreds of families with frozen eggs and embryos at a suburban Cleveland Hospital are learning the storage tank had a problem – and they may no longer be viable.

A storage tank for frozen eggs and embryos at the fertility clinic malfunctioned last weekend.

An alarm alerted employees when they arrived at work Sunday that the temperature had risen in the liquid nitrogen tank.

University Hospitals Cleveland posted a video statement on Facebook.

“We are so very sorry this happened and want to do all we can to support our patients and families through this very difficult time,” said Patti DePompei, President University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and MacDonald Women’s.

About two-thousand frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged, affecting 700 hundred patients. They’re being notified through letters and phone calls.

“It is a worst nightmare,” said Dr. Zaher Merhi, Director IVF Research & Technology New Hope Fertility in New York.

“Most likely these damages will affect the egg to survive the thaw or to be fertilized by sperm to form a healthy embryo,” said Merhi.  “The environment inside these tanks is unbelievably cold – 196 degrees below zero centigrade….384 degrees below zero Fahrenheit and temperature variation of as little as 5 percent is enough to cause disaster”

Dr. Merhi listed his clinic’s precautions to minimize the chance of it happening.

“1 – proper incubator, 2 – sensors, 3 – alarm system, 4- generators, 5 – staff that’s available to correct any problem right away,” said Dr. Merhi.

University Hospitals Cleveland says it’s investigating to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

The hospital has moved the impacted samples to another storage tank. Some were collected in the 1980s.


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