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The alarm system was off when the embryo tank failed, says the Ohio Fertility Clinic



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An alarm system was shut down at a storage tank when it failed in a Ohio Fertility Clinic and ruined more than 4,000 eggs and embryos, twice as much at first thought in the clinic, the hospital said in a letter to patients. The clinic, operated by Cleveland University Hospital, does not know who shut down the alarm this month or why it happened.

The alarm should have alerted the staff when the temperature of the storage tank rose on the evening of March 4, if not one was in the lab.

"We do not know who turned off the remote alarm and do not know how long it was off, but it seems to have been off for a while and we are still looking for those answers," the letter said. "We are heartbroken to tell you that it is unlikely that any are viable."

University hospitals said 950 patients were affected and several lawsuits were filed against it in the last three weeks.

A message seeking a comment from the hospital was not returned immediately on Tuesday.

Couples who stored their eggs and their embryos at the clinic say they are devastated because they may not have children of their own. Some had spent years trying to get pregnant, suffered several miscarriages, or had cancer treatments that destroyed their fertility.

Two accreditation agencies and Ohio's health department are investigating the failure to apply liquid nitrogen to a storage tank the same day San Francisco Fertility Clinic fell dramatically and potentially destroyed thousands of frozen eggs and embryos. The clinic sent an e-mail to patients who were affected, some of whom read: "While assisted reproductive technologies never come with guaranteed results, we are committed to exceptional patient care and use the highest quality procedures in our laboratory."

There is no known connection between the two errors.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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