2nd lawsuit filed over lost embryos at hospital

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An Ohio hospital where approximately 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged by a storage tank malfunction has apologized to patients and said it will do "everything possible to address the situation".

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.

The spokesman, Tom Becker, confirmed a Washington Post report of the March 4 incident.

Hospital officials say that they are determined to help the patients who lost eggs and embryos, and that the lawsuit will not affect an ongoing independent review into the malfunction.

The incident was the second liquid nitrogen failure at a fertility center reported in the same week.

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. Others, whose specimens were unaffected, were also notified.

During a routine check, the clinic's laboratory director discovered that the level of liquid nitrogen in one of the steel storage tanks had fallen too low, which could cause damage to the tissue.

CNN has attempted to contact Herbert for comment.

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"This was a awful incident", Herbert told the Post, "but I was reassured that he did everything anybody could ever want to do".

"We are so very sorry this happened and we want to do all that we can to support our patients and families through this very hard time", Patti DePompei, president of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and MacDonald Women's Hospital, said in a video posted on Facebook.

"I just urge everyone, before you judge what they've gone through, or what they're going through, or what their motives for doing it, ask yourselves, 'What would it be like if I had my family's treasure lost by a hospital that just didn't care enough to check on it?'" DiCello said.

"We are incredibly sorry this happened". The embryos, he said, were later transferred to a new tank.

According to the National Institute of Health, the cost of freezing and storing eggs can be as high as $10,000 per year.

Sean Tipton, chief policy, development and advocacy officer for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which represents people working in fertility clinics, said the first priority is to work with patients to see if some of their eggs or embryos were stored in other tanks or at other facilities.

The hospital estimates about 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged or destroyed by a storage tank malfunction. With two occurring nearly simultaneously, he said, further investigation is necessary.

"What is most disturbing to me is that everyone I talked to has been informed by UH that their embryos are not viable, they've been destroyed, different from what has been out there publicly which has been that they've been compromised, we don't know".

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