Nearly 1,000 women suddenly saw their shot at motherhood teetering in uncertainty overnight.
University Hospitals fertility clinic staff left for the day March 3, 2018 and soon after, it all went wrong.
Temperatures began to rise inside a freezer tank containing thousands of eggs and embryos. That spells danger, but no alarms sounded.
Instead, someone had turned off the remote alarm system on the cryo tank, meaning clinic staff never received an alert to the tank's rising temperature. When staff arrived for their shifts the next morning, it was too late.
More than 4,000 eggs and embryos were compromised, jeopardizing parenthood for nearly 1,000 patients. Many of these women had already been through too much, struggling to conceive or plagued by health problems that shut the window on their fertility.
The specimens inside the tank were not in dated order, with each vial containing two or three eggs or embryos per patient. That means one patient could have had several vials in her name inside the same tank.
UH notified all impacted patients via letter, but the trouble was only beginning.