Frozen Embryos

Experienced Attorneys Fighting for Families Whose Frozen Embryos Were Destroyed at University Hospitals Fertility Center in Cleveland

If your eggs or embryos were rendered non-viable because of a freezer malfunction, we can help

Every year, thousands of women make the decision to freeze their eggs or embryos. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and take an emotional toll on parents-to-be who may need to undergo multiple procedures to procure viable tissue samples. The recent freezer malfunction at University Hospitals Fertility Center in Cleveland has potentially affected thousands of frozen eggs and embryos.

If you were among the thousands of people who trusted University Hospitals to care for your embryos or eggs, but have recently discovered that they may no longer be viable, Crandall & Pera Law, LLC may be able to help. We represent families seeking compensation against University Hospitals Fertility Center for their loss. Please contact our trial attorneys to find out if you may be eligible.

What happened at University Hospitals?

On March 4, 2018, per NBC News, “A long-term storage tank containing liquid nitrogen at the University Hospitals Fertility Center in Cleveland experienced an apparent equipment failure.” This caused the temperature in the tanks to rise. (A similar malfunction occurred at the Pacific Fertility Clinic in San Francisco that same day, though the cases are thought to be unrelated.)

Patti DePompei, President of the UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, and UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital, posted the following video to Facebook on Thursday, March 8, 2018:

UH Fertility Clinic Update

We are investigating a recent incident at our Fertility Clinic involving an unexpected temperature fluctuation in the storage bank. We are committed to getting answers and working with our patients individually to address their concerns. The following is a more detailed message from Patti DePompei, RN, MSN, President of UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital.

Posted by University Hospitals on Thursday, March 8, 2018

As of right now, no cause has been established for the why the temperature in the tanks rose. The facility did have an alarm, but because no one was working in the facility on Saturday night, no one heard the alarm until employees entered the building on Sunday morning.

How many samples were affected?

The initial numbers vary, but more than 4,000 eggs and embryos were lost, per The New York Times. They said about 950 families were affected by the freezer failure.

All of the remaining samples were moved into another tank within the facility, and are under 24/7 watch – but there is no way to tell whether or not the samples are still viable unless they are thawed. Dr. James Liu, who chairs the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UH Cleveland Medical Center, told the Plain Dealer that some of the specimens have been in storage since the 1980s.

Eggs, embryos and in vitro fertilization

According to another piece in the Washington Post, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) claims 7,518 women had eggs frozen in 2015 – about a third of the total number of women in the U.S. who have had the procedure.

There are multiple reasons for this. Some women want to pursue careers when they are younger, and wish to delay having a family. Some women want to save their eggs to ensure that they can have biological children with a partner they love (once said partner enters his or her life). Couples choose to freeze eggs and embryos for myriad reasons, but ultimately, it is to undergo a procedure called in vitro fertilization, or IVF, a form of Assisted Reproductive Technology.

Per SART, in vitro fertilization works like this:

“In IVF, eggs are surgically removed from the ovary and mixed with sperm outside the body in a Petri dish (‘in vitro’ is Latin for ‘in glass’). After about 40 hours, the eggs are examined to see if they have become fertilized by the sperm and are dividing into cells. These fertilized eggs (embryos) are then placed in the women’s uterus, thus bypassing the fallopian tubes.”

Between 1985 and 2006, approximately half a million babies have been born through some kind of Assisted Reproductive Technology.

Does freezing your eggs really work?

Yes – and no. And that is what makes this scenario so tragic.

On average, only about 75% of all frozen eggs will survive the thawing process, and not all of them will be successfully fertilized. The Keck School of Medicine of USC states “if 10 eggs are frozen, 7 are expected to survive the thaw, and 5 to 6 are expected to fertilize and become embryos.” Just because an embryo develops, however, it does not guarantee a successful pregnancy.

On top of this, the procedure is incredibly expensive. On average, a couple will spend between $10,000 and $17,000 per IVF cycle, plus costs associated with freezing and thawing the eggs. NBC News explains:

[Researchers] found that 62 percent of women who freeze their eggs at age 35 and try to get pregnant at age 40 would successfully have a baby, with the average total cost of the procedures leading to the birth coming to $39,946.

Just 42 percent of women who tried to get pregnant at age 40 using IVF with newly retrieved eggs would have a baby, with costs totaling $55,060, on average.

Under a third scenario, women freeze their eggs at age 35, and then at age 40, they try conventional IVF. Only if those newly retrieved eggs don’t work do they proceed to use frozen eggs. Women in this situation would spend an average of $61,887 — making it the most costly option in the study. But this scenario also had the highest success rate, with 74 percent eventually giving birth, the researchers said” (emphasis ours).

My frozen eggs and/or embryos were stored at UH. What do I do?

If you stored your eggs or embryos at University Hospitals Fertility Center in Cleveland, you can call 216-286-9740 between 7:00am and 8:00pm, Monday through Friday; and between 7:00am and 1:00pm on Saturdays. To make an appointment with someone from the facility, you can contact the Center [here].

1000 Auburn Dr.
Suite 310
Beachwood, OH 44122

Filing a lawsuit against the fertility clinic

The first two lawsuits have been filed against University Hospitals: one by a couple who lost two embryos because of the freezer malfunction, and another by a couple who has been trying to have a baby for eight years. With 700 patients and as many as 2,000 potentially affected embryos, it is possible that a class action lawsuit may proceed against UH.

Crandall & Pera Law is currently representing clients who have sustained injury because of the malfunctioning tank at UH Fertility Clinic. We encourage you to contact us if your have stored your eggs or embryos at the facility.

Experienced trial attorneys representing families whose futures were turned upside down because of University Hospitals

Crandall & Pera Law is dedicated to upholding the rights of our clients. If you stored your frozen eggs or embryos at University Hospitals Fertility Center in Cleveland, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. To reserve a no-obligation consultation with an experienced trial lawyer, please call 877-686-8879 or fill out our contact form. We have five Ohio law offices conveniently located in Cleveland, Chesterland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Chagrin Falls, and two Kentucky offices located in Lexington and Louisville.

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