Something went wrong that weekend.
Between the overnight hours of March 3 and March 4, a cryo tank inside UH's fertility center began to warm up. The tanks have multiple monitors and sensors that should set off alarms if there’s a temperature flux, but no alarm was triggered.
“There was a gradient between the top of the cryo tank and the bottom and the bottom stayed at the proper levels so we are currently looking at what specimens existed in that gradient, but obviously our concern is that there is potentially compromised embryos and our fear is a significant number of embryos and eggs have been compromised,” Dr. James Liu, Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital, told WKYC.
The specimens inside the tank were not in dated order. They were mixed. Each vial contained two to three eggs or embryo from each patient, meaning one patient could have had several vials in her name.
All of the affected vials were moved to a new, working tank, but the hospital wasn't sure how many were still viable. They must be completely thawed to determine viability, but cannot be refrozen.
The hospital first said 2,000 eggs and embryo were affected, impacting more than 5,000 patients. On March 27, the hospital said that number had doubled to 4,000 eggs and embryo and nearly 1,000 patients.