Hundreds of families have been left devastated after ab Ohio fertility clinic revealed that they had experienced a freezer malfunction which is likely to have resulted in the damage of eggs and embryos.
The University Hospitals Fertility Clinic in Cleveland stated that an unexpected temperature fluctuation” within the storage bank impacted several embryos, and may render them unusable. “We have initiated an investigation to identify the cause of this event,” the clinic said in a statement.
“Right now, our patients come first. We are incredibly sorry this happened. We are committed to getting answers and working with patients individually to address their concerns.”
One of those patients, Christina Ellis, had two embryos stored at the clinic. After these shocking revelations, she is heartbroken at the thought of losing what could have been her future children.
“It’s just a horrible feeling. In my heart, I’m like, ‘Those were my children. Those were babies-to-be.’ And I had such a hard time with the procedure in the first place because I was 36,” the mom of one told PEOPLE. “We thought,’ [my daughter’s] going to have her siblings, and that was our whole goal and now that’s just been crushed.”
“I just never thought this would happen. In a million years, I never thought that this would happen.”
Christina has a 2-year-old daughter, Laceygale, from in vitro fertilization (IVF).
“I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to say,” she said of the moment she got the news that her embryos might be lost. “I just broke down crying. I was still in denial … my first thought was, ‘There go my babies. I’m not going to be able to have kids anymore.”
Though the clinic’s revelation is devastating to those who were hoping to birth a child through in vitro fertilization (IVF), it is unlikely that the clinic will face any serious legal action as the US government does not recognize embryos as human beings but as property – a definition that is highly criticized by many in the faith community.
“My husband and I are heartbroken as they have taken away our chance to add to our family if we wanted to,” another patient of the fertility clinic, Rachael Hyster, told PEOPLE. “I feel my loss is minimal to some of the families, this was their only hope to have a biological child of their own.”
“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,” the clinic wrote in their statement on the incident.
“As always, we are guided by the principle that we are going to do the right thing by our patients and their families.”
Faithwire previously reported on the extraordinary story of a baby who was born after being frozen as an embryo for almost 25 years and asked some critical questions of the controversial practice of embryonic freezing.
Effectively, cryopreservation places the timeline of a new human life in the hands of man. Once a well-formed embryo is achieved, it can be put to one side on the basis of convenience and family planning – to be revived or “thawed” years later. Thus, many deem the ethics of such a practice to be rather dubious.
But despite the moral ambiguity, many groups are choosing to embrace the use of human embryos and committing themselves to “saving” what they see as tiny little lives.