Watch CBSN Live

Mother felt "physically ill" after hearing embryos possibly destroyed at fertility center

Embryos possibly destroyed
Embryos possibly destroyed 02:44

In Ohio, hundreds of hopeful parents are on edge. A storage tank malfunctioned last weekend at a fertility center in Cleveland, possibly destroying more than 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos.

The eggs and embryos were in a long-term storage tank at University Hospitals Fertility Center when the temperature started getting warmer. Some, like the ones belonging to Amber and Elliott Ash, had been there for years. When Elliot was diagnosed with cancer, they planned ahead so they could have a family one day. Now, they are stunned.

"I'm not sure what to do next," said Elliott. "I know that when I had cancer we saved my sperm and we thought well maybe we'll go back for another retrieval and do another embryo implantation."

Amber and Elliott Ash CBS News

The couple had gone through the IVF process, but after the birth of their son Ethan in 2015, Amber's medical team advised her not to carry another pregnancy.  So they were planning on using another embryo through a surrogate. The hospital says they sent letters to inform patients who were affected, but Amber says she first heard about what happened from a family member who saw it on the news.

"My heart just sank and I felt physically ill," Amber said. "I felt just sick to my stomach. The world of infertility is just very isolating world, it's very lonely it's complete loss of control."

A storage tank malfunctioned at a fertility center in Cleveland, possibly destroying more than 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos CBS News

University Hospitals says they doesn't know the number of people affected or the viability of the eggs and embryos, but for now, they've transferred them to a functional storage facility and initiated an investigation. They released a video statement on their Facebook page, saying "we are so very sorry this happened and we want to do all that we can to support our patients during this very difficult time."

But for some, that's not enough.

"For some this is their last hope, I mean they physically, financially, mentally can't put themselves through that again," Amber said. "I've gone from anger, I've gone through just feeling a sense of loss, grief, I think right now I'm just angry to be honest."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.