Thousands of frozen eggs and embryos were likely destroyed when temperatures spiked in a storage tank at a nationally renowned OH fertility clinic, according to hospital officials and reports Friday.
"We are investigating a recent incident at our fertility clinic involving an unexpected temperature fluctuation in the storage bank", University Hospitals said in a statement released on Facebook with a video from DePompei.
Women and families choose to freeze their eggs or embryos for a number of reasons to try and have a baby at a later date. They do not know yet if it was a mechanical malfunction or human error. Some samples that were unfrozen for scheduled procedures this week were not viable.
No one was at the facility overnight on Saturday, and the storage tank was monitored both on and off-site.
These stored eggs and embryos may in some cases have been the only option for a woman or couple to have a biological child.
This story has been corrected to show that around 700 patients are affected, not 500 patients.More news: Rockets extend winning streak
We are bringing in independent experts to ensure we understand all aspects of this occurrence and do everything possible to address the situation. None of the eggs or embryos will be destroyed, WKYC reported, and University Hospitals has reported the incident to federal regulators.
The liquid nitrogen freezer held about 2,000 egg and embryo specimens, according to James Liu, chairman of the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UH Cleveland Medical Center. Hospital staff has set up a call center to arrange meetings or calls between patients and their physicians to address their concerns.
No malfunction of this kind has been reported at any other fertility clinic in the country, a spokesperson for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine told NBC News.
The news came to patients in the form of a letter on Thursday.
"It's devastating", Patti DePompei, president of University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center in Cleveland told the local station WKYC.