The womb-wrenching flub was caused when heat levels unexpectedly rose inside a liquid nitrogen tank at the fertility center, "compromising" up to 2,000 eggs and embryos, DePompei admitted in a Facebook post. Some of the samples were provided in the 1980s. "We are committed to getting answers and working with patients individually to address their concerns", the University Hospitals statement said.
Patients typically pay about $12,000 without insurance for in vitro fertilization.
The failure resulted in the temperature in the tank becoming warmer than it should be, which means numerous eggs and embryos in the tank may no longer be viable, according to Patti DePompei, president, UH MacDonald Women's Hospital and UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital.
The process of removing and freezing a woman's eggs is arduous and can cost upward of $10,000, plus hundreds of dollars in yearly storage fees. When embryologists arrived at the center Sunday morning, an alarm alerted them to a temperature change in the tank, administrators told the Plain Dealer.
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The incident comes as a growing number of women choose to freeze their eggs due to illness, or because they are concerned that the quality and quantity of their eggs will drop over time.
This story has been corrected to show that around 700 patients are affected, not 500 patients.
The hospital said it does not yet know what caused the problem and is investigating.
All of the samples have been moved to another storage tank at the facility. None of the eggs or embryos will be destroyed, WKYC reported, and University Hospitals has reported the incident to federal regulators. "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". "Obviously the situation that occurred here is devastating for the families involved, and it's devastating for. our staff", DePompei tells NBC News.