A fridge malfunction at a hospital in Cleveland has left over 700 patients wondering if the eggs and embryos they froze at a fertility clinic are still usable.
The incident is under investigation and hospital administrators say they don't know what caused a temperature fluctuation in the liquid nitrogen storage bank that held eggs and embryos for patients of the fertility center.
"At this point, we do not know the viability of all of the stored eggs and embryos, although we do know some have been impacted", said Patti DePompei, the president of University Hospital Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, in a Facebook video announcing the news.
Now at 28, Katelynn considered those 10 eggs and four embryos her future. "Obviously the situation that occurred here is devastating for the families involved, and it's devastating for. our staff", DePompei tells NBC News.
"We are so very sorry this happened and we want to do all we can to support our patients and families through this very hard time".
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The tanks have multiple monitors and sensors that should set off alarms if there's a temperature flux. The hospital doesn't know yet if there was a mechanical failure or human error. We have already initiated contact with all of our patients to inform them and respond to their questions, and set up a designated call center to arrange personal meetings or calls with their physicians. The line is staffed by nurse professionals from 7 a.m.to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 8 a.m.to 1 p.m. on Saturday. "Right now, our patients and families are our first priority".
The only way to check if an egg or embryo is viable is to thaw it, which is only done when it is to be used imminently.
How numerous eggs and embryos are no longer viable.
DePompei stated: 'We are working very very carefully to determine how we can best support them through the process'. For some patients it could mean procedure fees would be waived for future treatment.
"We are so very sorry this happened".