CLEVELAND (AP) — The Latest on the equipment failures at fertility clinics in California and Ohio (all times Eastern):
A fertility expert says that the nearly 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.
Dr. Kevin Doody is lab director at the Center for Assisted Reproduction in Texas and past president of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. He tells The Associated Press that the failures at clinics in Ohio and California are “two black swan events happening in the same day.”
But he says that so far, nobody knows of any connection between the two failures. He says it’s “just a bad, bad, bad coincidence.”
Doody says the industry in the long run will end up being safer because there will be investigations and other facilities will examine their own backup measures and alarm systems.
The clinics in San Francisco and the Cleveland area say equipment failures March 4 may have damaged hundreds of frozen eggs and embryos.
The president of a California fertility clinic where thousands of frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged says the problem was “immediately rectified” by a worker who refilled a low nitrogen tank.
Dr. Carl Herbert is president of Pacific Fertility Clinic in San Francisco. He tells ABC News in an <a target=”—blank” href=”http://abc7news.com/news/fertility-clinic-cryostorage-fridge-malfunction-on-same-day-as-cleveland-hospital/3204291/”>interview</a> released Monday that a senior embryologist noticed the nitrogen level in one tank was very low during a routine check March 4.
Herbert says the embryos were later transferred to a new tank. He says the clinic is sending letters to about 500 patients “that may have been involved in this tank.”
He says the clinic has put in place more failsafe measures to prevent a repeat.
The failure came the same day as one at a Cleveland-area clinic where officials estimate about 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged by a similar storage malfunction.
An Ohio family has filed a class action lawsuit against the hospital where officials estimate about 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged by a storage tank malfunction.
Amber and Elliott Ash, of Bay Village, say they had two embryos stored at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center’s suburban fertility clinic after Elliott’s cancer diagnosis in 2003. The couple has a 2-year-old son conceived through in-vitro fertilization, and hoped to bring him a genetic sibling.
The couple says their embryos are now no longer viable.
The hospital issued an apology after the unexplained malfunction caused temperatures inside the storage tank to rise. UH officials say the lawsuit will not affect an ongoing independent review into the malfunction.
The Ash family is seeking an undisclosed amount in damages.