Here's everything we know about the University Hospitals fertility storage malfunction

CLEVELAND - In a devastating turn of events for hundreds of local patients, a refrigerator malfunction at the University Hospitals Fertility Clinic has left the viability of 2,000 eggs and embryos in question.

What happened?

University Hospitals said it's investigating the "unexpected temperature fluctuation with the tissue storage bank where eggs and embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen."

How many patients were affected?

The incident affects about 700 patients. In order for patients to know whether their eggs are viable, they have to be completely thawed. Once they are unthawed, they can't be refrozen. At least one family told us they have been informed by UH that their embryos are no longer viable. 


The agency that accredits University Hospitals' fertility clinic is investigating the hospital's compliance.


At least two families have filed class-action lawsuits against University Hospitals. Additionally, a lawsuit filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas alleges nine embryos were "damaged" in 2016 as a result of an alleged "incubator malfunction" at the University Hospitals Fertility Center.

However, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge has issued a temporary restraining order against University Hospitals.

What happens to the eggs and embryos?

According to University Hospitals, none of the eggs and embryos impacted by the partial thaw will be destroyed. They were removed to another tank at the correct temperature.

RELATED: "It's beyond devastating." UH fertility patient reacts to clinic failure

It happened elsewhere

A second fertility clinic, the Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco, also experienced fridge malfunction on the same day as the University Hospitals malfunction.

What we don't know

  • The fate of all 2,000 eggs and embryos
  • How the malfunction happened
  • How long it took for anyone to notice the malfunction
  • What type of equipment was involved
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