CNN reports that Kate Plants organised a memorial service on Saturday, near Cleveland to grieve for the eggs and embryos that she and hundreds of others lost in a tragic accident in March.
For Plants, who was diagnosed with and treated for with ovarian cancer, that was her last shot at having a biological child.”I think about who they could have been and what they would have been,” Plants said. “Those were our future children.”
950 patients of a fertility clinic lost at least 4,000 eggs and embryos because of a system malfunction the first weekend of March. Many of them had gone through grueling fertility treatments so they could freeze eggs and embryos, which they stored at University Hospitals in Cleveland.
Sierra Mathews also was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Now 22, she harvested her eggs at 19 so she could have a child in the future.
“I didn’t even want to go through fertility treatments, and I felt like I just went through all this trauma for nothing,” Mathews said.
CNN reports that on March 3rd, eggs and embryos had been stored in a liquid nitrogen tank at University Hospitals in Cleveland, which was equipped with a remote alarm system that should have alerted an employee to any temperature change. But the hospital says the alarm was off, so an alert was never issued when an apparent malfunction caused temperatures in the tank to rise. Because it was Saturday night when the lab wasn’t staffed, no one noticed the continuing rise in temperature. As a result, the eggs and embryos thawed.
Carrianne Mahoney, who froze her embryos due to polycystic ovarian syndrome, was crushed when she learned that they had been damaged. “Now, they’re gone,” she said. “Now, I’m never going to know what those babies are going to grow up to be or anything. That’s how it hurts me.”
Age is also a problem for many who lost eggs and embryos, according to Landskroner. “Many of these folks who potentially go back and have another round of IVF are older now. So it’s harder to get embryos and eggs as you age, and there’s increased risk when an egg and embryo is taken for someone who’s at 30 years old versus 38 years old.”
Mathews doesn’t want to see other families get hurt. She offered this advice for others looking to freeze their eggs or embryos: “My message is, make sure you do research. Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask doctors questions. Ask them about the rules and regulations. Ask them if they’ve had any incidents in the past.”