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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Three cancer survivors from Pittsburgh are among the hundreds who lost eggs and embryos when a freezer malfunctioned at a fertility clinic near Cleveland.
They appeared with their lawyer Monday to talk about the impact it’s had on their future and why they’re filing lawsuits.
An unlikely bond has formed between Sara, Daniel and Rachel. All three are cancer survivors. All three had hoped to one day be mothers. All three had their hopes dashed when human error and a faulty cryogenic freezer at University Hospitals of Cleveland destroyed thousands of stored eggs and embryos.
“I felt as though someone had punched me square in the gut,” Rachel said. “I have now lost all hopes of ever having biological children.”
“My hopes and dreams have been shattered. I have no idea how I will go on. Everything has been stolen from me, and my spirit is crushed,” Daniel said.
“Because of the freezer malfunction at University Hospitals, I will never be able to use the 29 eggs that I placed in their care,” Sara said.
The women, now represented by women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, have filed a suit against the hospital for their emotional plan and suffering, as well as to push for procedural changes that would stop this type of heartbreak from affecting anyone else.
“No one should have to suffer like this,” Sara said.
“I mean, it’s heartbreaking. It’s bad enough when women are treated with callous disregard in any area of life, but especially in this area, which is so intimate, so personal and so life-changing,” Allred said.
Attorneys say the case could eventually become a class-action suit. More than 900 families were affected, representing more than 4,000 eggs and embryos.
Adding to the personal turmoil faced by these women, all three say they risked their lives for the chance to have a child by putting off cancer treatments to allow time to harvest the now-destroyed eggs.
“It was recommended by my physicians that I remove my ovaries as soon as possible, definitely before the age of 40,” Daniel said.
“I risked my life and delayed my chemotherapy treatments because having a family was so important to me. My mom cautioned me against it,” Sara said.
KDKA-TV’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland reached out to University Hospital for a comment on the announced lawsuit. So far, there is no comment, but they say one will be forthcoming. The hospital did stress patients are now and will continue to be their first priority.