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Two couples sue Southern California fertility clinic over destroyed embryos

(CN) — Two couples sued an Orange County fertility clinic on Thursday accusing the facility of negligence for killing their embryos.

The anonymous, nearly identical complaints for negligence, fraud and medical battery accuse Ovation Fertility of using hydrogen peroxide to clean its incubator, which killed dozens of embryos.

“This is a tragedy for dozens of would-be parents in Orange County,” the plaintffs’ attorney, Adam Wolf, said Thursday at a press conference held over Zoom.

“Some of the victims lost all their remaining embryos. To them, this is not about lost time, money and physical pain. Ovation robbed them of the chance to have biologically related children. To make matters worse, this disaster was completely preventable.”

According to Wolf, Ovation is one of the largest fertility networks in the country, with 14 labs in 10 different states. Ovation, which is owned by a Morgan Stanley private equity group, did not immediately respond to an email requesting a comment.

Wolf’s firm specializes in IVF and fertility clinic misconduct — everything from the transfer of embryos to the wrong person to doctors using their own sperm to fertilize embryos. For years, he has been calling for better regulation and more oversight for the burgeoning industry.

In 2021, a federal jury ordered a cryogenic tank maker to pay $15 million to five plaintiffs after an accident destroyed 3,500 frozen eggs and embryos at a San Francisco fertility lab.

“As IVF continues to grow across the country, we need to have meaningful regulation over this $27 billion industry,” Wolf said. “There is no doubt that a lack of oversight in the IVF industry contributed to this tragedy.”

He added that he’s seen similar cases across the country.

The tragedy at Ovation’s Newport Beach clinic stemmed from a lab employee mistakenly using hydrogen peroxide to clean its incubator instead of a sterile solution. Wolf said it was an apparent mix-up that likely occurred in January 2024.

“How is nobody minding the store at this fertility clinic?” Wolf asked. “This is a relatively simple operation. There is no excuse for this.”

“As it stands,” he added, “the folks that work in the lab do not need certification, do not need advanced training or continuing education. Those are things required of techs in veterinary clinics. Why are we not requiring that in fertility clinics, when we require it in a place that takes care of dogs and cats?”


Source: Courthouse News Service April 18 2024

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