Equipment failure at second fertility clinic may have damaged hundreds of embryos


A San Francisco fertility clinic says thousands of frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged after a liquid nitrogen failure in a storage tank.

Hundreds of patients whose eggs or embryos were stored in the tank for future use have been notified, said a spokesman for the Pacific Fertility Clinic.

Dr. Carl Herbert, president of the Pacific Fertility Clinic in San Francisco, told ABC News in an interview released Monday that a senior embryologist noticed the nitrogen level in one tank was very low during a routine check of the tanks March 4. Women freeze eggs in order to postpone pregnancy until a later date or to have a supply for in vitro fertilization attempts. "Our goal is to provide all the patients we see with some kind of a family. Anger is a big part of the phone call", Herbert said of his discussions with patients. In the case in OH, the facility said the only way to determine the viability of the eggs and the embryos of 700 patients is to fully thaw them.

In a class action lawsuit, they allege the hospital failed "to maintain, inspect, monitor, and/or test their liquid nitrogen storage tanks". "The medical community calls it tissue, I like to think of it as my children".

"Our patients and the safety of their eggs and embryos are our highest priorities and we are reaching out to inform them of this incident".

An "unexpected temperature fluctuation with the tissue storage bank" occurred over the weekend of March 3 and 4, according to a statement from UH on March 8, at which point the system didn't know the viability of the eggs and embryos.

"There was a gradient between the top of the cryo tank and the bottom and the bottom stayed at the proper levels so we are now looking at what specimens existed in that gradient, but obviously our concern is that there is potentially compromised embryos and our fear is a significant number of embryos and eggs have been compromised", Dr. Liu said.

"This was a bad incident", Pacific Fertility Center President Carl Herbert, MD, told The Post.

The Pennsylvania couple was beginning to set up a time last week for transferring a frozen embryo to the woman's womb when they later were told something went wrong, attorneys said.

A spokesperson with the clinic told the post that an estimated 15 percent of the clinic's total number of eggs and embryos were in the damaged tank.

According to the Pacific Fertility website, egg-freezing costs $8,345 for the first round and $6,995 for each subsequent round.

"We just want to hold UH accountable, that they should make this right", said UH patient Kate Plants.

How numerous eggs and embryos are no longer viable.