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Local couple wants change in fertility regulations following UH failure

Many of the 950 families who lost a combined 4,000 eggs and embryos want more answers and they want better oversight so tragedies like this never happen again..

A memorial for those touched by the University Hospital Fertility Center mishap is being planned at Woodvale Cemetery.

While the healing continues, heartbroken couples are now focused on ensuring this does not happen to others.

Earlier this week, University Hospitals admitted someone shut off the remote alarm system that would have warned the embryologist on duty that the cryo tank was failing. UH says their investigation is still ongoing, and since the event, they have increased alarms to alert three people instead of one.

That doesn't help the 950 families who lost a combined 4,000 eggs and embryos. They want more answers and they want better oversight so tragedies like this never happen again..

Families like Matt and Emily Petite, who started their fertility journey at University Hospitals in 2014 when they first met their physician.

"He gave us so much hope, he said you two are going to be parents," Emily recalls. "I'm going to make this happen for you."

And it did. Their son Mason is the joy of their lives.

"We wouldn't have had him if it hadn't been for IVF (in vitro fertilization), he's our miracle," says Emily.

The couple chose to store two remaining embryos with the hospital with the hope of giving Mason a sibling later this year. All that changed three weeks ago when they received the devastating news from UH about their cryo tank failure.

"We had our future in that tank and your human error has robbed us of that," Emily says tearfully. "And no other round of IVF is going to give us back what we lost."

MORE | University Hospitals fertility clinic failure: How thousands of eggs, embryos were lost

The Petites plan on joining the fight for better regulations over fertility clinics. They want to see specimens stored in more than one place so there's always a backup in case one fails. They want couples to have faith in IVF, but know to ask questions about specimen storage.

The couple is being represented by the DiCello Law Firm, now representing dozens of families suing UH. Attorney Mark DiCello says even though the hospital cites human error, he thinks the problem is much bigger, if not system-wide.

"This looks like many people making bad decisions to allow something completely predictable and completely avoidable to happen," DiCello says.

Matt and Emily want to grieve and they want closure. They want people to understand the effort to become parents was an incredibly difficult journey. The offer by the hospital for free treatment isn't an easy decision to make.

"It was so hard watching Emily go through that," Matt says.

"It was the hardest thing we've ever gone through. The mental, physical, the emotional anguish, the stress and the strain that it put on us individually and as a couple. I don't know if I could put ourselves through that again," Emily adds.

Many of the families wondered if they would be able to get their eggs and embryos returned to them.

We reached out to University Hospitals who told us it has always been their policy that if a family wants them back, UH can and will accommodate that request.

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