Viability of 2,000 embryos in question at University Hospitals fertility clinic

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CLEVELAND (AP) – Officials say more than 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged due to a refrigerator malfunction at an Ohio fertility clinic.

Patti DePompei, president of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and MacDonald Women’s Hospital, calls the situation “absolutely devastating.” She says the temperature in one of the two large freezers preserving specimens at the UH Fertility Center near Cleveland rose above acceptable limits overnight Saturday for unknown reasons.

Hospital officials say more than 500 patients were affected, including some that provided samples in the 1980’s. The hospital notified patients Tuesday.

All of the samples have been moved to another storage tank at the facility.

Patients typically pay about $12,000 without insurance for in vitro fertilization. It’s not clear how the affected patients will be compensated.

“Right now, our patients come first. We are incredibly sorry this happened. We are committed to getting answers and working with patients individually to address their concerns. We have already initiated contact with all of our patients to inform them and respond to their questions, and set up a designated call center to arrange personal meetings or calls with their physicians,” UH said in a statement.

Patients with questions can call the hotline at  216-286-9740. Calls will be taken Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. through 1 p.m.

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