A storage tank accident at the university hospitals in Cleveland destroyed or damaged frozen embryos and ova.
Personnel and cable report
Tzangas Plakas Mannos, based in Canton, is one of the law firms that sued an accident at a fertility clinic in the Cleveland area that destroyed or damaged frozen eggs and embryos.
About 2,000 eggs and embryos stored in a liquid nitrogen storage tank at the Fertility Center of Ahuja Medical Center at Beechwood Hospital University were included, according to the lawsuit. Once thawed, they can not be frozen again. The hospital apologized and said it is investigating what went wrong.
Up to 700 couples were affected. The impact extends beyond Cleveland to a "significant" number of women and families in Summit, Stark, Medina, Portage and other counties, according to lawyers Lee Plakas and Megan Frantz Oldham of Tzangas Plakas Mannos.
Frantz Oldham has been talking to local couples, although none of them wants to speak publicly at this point. Many have maintained their infertility struggles in private and are suffering from the loss of what they see as their unborn children.
"It is clear that this is completely devastating and what they have lost," he said.
Infertility affects one in eight families in the US UU., A problem that often leaves a woman or couple feeling helpless and looking for solutions to regain control, he said. In vitro fertilization is emotionally and physically demanding, he said. It is expensive, since treatments can range from $ 15,000 to $ 25,000, forcing some to borrow or borrow from their families to pursue a family's dream.
Plakas called the clinical situation a "tragedy of errors".
Preliminary information indicates that there was a mechanical breakdown in the facility between March 3 and 4. Ideal storage tank temperatures are minus 160 degrees to minus 170 degrees. The collapse caused the temperature to rise to 40 degrees, he said.
There is a backup power source or generator but it was only programmed or operated for a limited period and the alarm was transmitted to a desk that was not occupied during the weekend, he said.
"For a couple of hundred dollars, most domestic heating and cooling systems can be remotely monitored and controlled." It is unimaginable that the systems that should preserve the dreams of having children do not receive the necessary commitment to avoid this tragic result, "he said.
Several couples shared their stories with the Associated Press:
Marlo Emch did not grow up with a brother or sister close to his age. That's why she desperately wanted another child after giving birth in April to a child conceived through in vitro fertilization.
He imagined that his son had a partner to help navigate life and someone who would be there after she and her husband had left. "It saddens me to think that he will never have a brother close to his age," he said.
Emch and her husband, Jeremy, got married around age 30 and had trouble having a child, losing a pregnancy after three months, before turning to a fertility clinic.
"People who can conceive naturally have no idea of the level of desperation a woman has when she can not get pregnant," she said.
Everything worked perfectly with the birth of their son, and they planned to try just one more this spring until they were told last week that their remaining seven embryos can no longer be viable.
The couple, both now 42, will not know until the embryos have been thawed and tested.
"The chances are very, very low, the mother in me has to find out for sure, I almost feel like I'm going to have to cry again," said Emch, who lives in Burton, Ohio. .
Since receiving the devastating news, a Facebook support group opened to the 700 affected patients of the suburban Cleveland Clinic.
A woman told how her husband died since the couple froze their embryos. "That was his last connection to him," said Emch.
Before undergoing chemotherapy at age 23 for a rare cancer that affects the bones and soft tissue, Elliott Ash decided to freeze his sperm.
He had not even met his future wife but he knew that he wanted to have children one day.
Married five years ago, he and his wife decided in 2014 to begin the process of having a child through in vitro fertilization when they were 30 years old. His son was born the following year, and two frozen embryos remained stored in the University Hospitals.
"In an instant, everything was taken away," said Amber Ash.
Doctors told the couple that the embryos did not survive. thawing.
His first thought was about his son and his missed opportunity to have a genetic brother.
While her husband's cancer is in remission, chemotherapy left him sterile. Creating new embryos with your sperm is no longer an option.
Bay Village, the couple was one of the first to sue the hospital.
"Many of us were deceived, deceived by the opportunity to start families or expand our families," said Amber Ash. "Our motive is really that we want to prevent this from happening again, to prevent another family from going through this complete nightmare."
Cameron Michalak and his wife, Amber, spent nearly eight frustrating years trying to have a baby, both naturally and through fertilization treatments.
When nothing of what they tried worked, her doctor advised her that her best and perhaps only possibility of a pregnancy would be through in vitro fertilization.
Expensive and exhaustive, the process took over their lives. Family and friends in the Cleveland area raised $ 13,000 through a GoFundMe campaign.
There were hundreds of injections, several times a day for Amber. Strict schedules for the drug waves. Another failure in the first round. And then, more shots after Amber became pregnant with a girl in April.
"Extraordinarily invasive," said Cameron Michalak. "I would not wish that anymore."
Now, however, it's a decision they can face again.
The couple had five frozen embryos, created by combining their ova and sperm, which were frozen and stored in the failed tank. Now, repeating the process may be their only chance of having another child.
University Hospitals offers to help patients with new fertility treatments.
That may be an option for the Michalaks, who live in Vermillion, because they're both 34, but that might not be true for older patients. Others decide if it is worth risking additional health complications.
"That was my first thought, all the people who have not yet had the opportunity to succeed," said Cameron Michalak. "All the people who do not have time to wait or their time is now"