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UH Fertility Clinic: Devastating news for a family who thought their embryos were safe

Posted: 6:09 PM, Jul 19, 2018
Updated: 2019-03-28 19:48:52Z

A Cleveland law firm announced on Thursday that even more families than the 950 who were previously notified may have been affected by the University Hospitals embryo debacle.

Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane (PWCK) made the announcement about a family who contacted them on Wednesday and told the firm they had just been notified that they were added to the list of families who no longer had viable eggs and embryos.

On March 3, a storage tank temperature fluctuation at the fertility center led to the inviability of 4,000 eggs and embryos at University Hospitals Fertility Clinic, turning the lives of local families upside down. UH blamed human error for the malfunction.

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This family who was most recently notified of their loss received the news after they were told in the first two rounds of announcements about the number of families affected that their embryos were safe, PWCK said. Initial reports showed around 700 patients were affected, then UH later updated that number to about 950.

PWCK now questions how many more families who thought their eggs and embryos were safe are affected. The law firm is urging UH to repeal the gag order on the lawsuit around this catastrophe so that the public can be immediately informed of any changes and updates moving forward.

UH said two fertility center patients who planned to use donor embryos were notified in a letter on July 13 that their donor's embryos were destroyed in the March storage tank malfunction. The hospital sent the following statement following the news from PWCK:

To be very clear, no other embryos or eggs were affected. The letters the plaintiffs’ attorneys apparently referenced in their news conference today were letters sent to two patients who had eggs or embryos donated to them. The letters made those two families aware of the situation. They were the only patients in this situation. In the letter we sincerely apologized to those patients that communications regarding this situation had not reached them more quickly.

Any characterization that additional eggs or embryos were impacted is inaccurate and further illustrates why we have asked the court to ensure communications from attorneys in this matter are limited to the courtroom and not through hastily called news conferences.

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