Family files lawsuit over lost embryos at Ohio hospital


CLEVELAND (AP) — An Ohio hospital where as many as 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos were damaged by a storage tank malfunction is being sued by a couple who lost two embryos.

The lawsuit was filed Sunday on behalf of Amber and Elliott Ash. Lawyers are seeking class action status, which would require approval from a judge. The suit was filed on the same day The Washington Post reported that a San Francisco fertility clinic said thousands of frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged in a liquid nitrogen failure in a storage tank earlier this month.

The Ashes say they stored two embryos at a University Hospitals fertility clinic in suburban Cleveland after Elliott’s cancer diagnosis in 2003. They say they were told over the weekend that their embryos are no longer viable.

The hospital is still investigating the cause of the problem, which was discovered March 4, the same day the San Francisco clinic suffered a similar failure.

“It’s heartbreaking, just heartbreaking,” Amber Ash told WEWS-TV. “The medical community calls it tissue. I like to think of it as my children.”

The couple has a 2-year-old son conceived through in-vitro fertilization and hoped to bring him a genetic sibling.

“I find it very hard to believe that in this day and age there are not better safeguards and practices that could be put in place,” Amber Ash said.

An attorney for the Ashes, Mark DiCello, said patients have “too many unanswered questions.”

“With this lawsuit, we will get answers and stop this from happening again,” he said in a news release.

Hospital officials say they are determined to help the patients who lost eggs and embryos, and the lawsuit will not affect an ongoing independent review into the malfunction.

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