A Sheffield clinic and a London hospital are impacted by defective egg-freezing products

The fertility authority has stated that frozen eggs and embryos may have been destroyed as a result of the use of a poor freezing solution at fertility clinics in Sheffield and London, which has affected a large number of women.

The assisted conception units at Guy’s and St. Thomas in London, as well as Jessop Fertility in Sheffield, were the only locations where the problem was confirmed by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

The US manufacturer Cooper Surgical sent the clinics a batch of freezing solution that was defective.

A woman who experienced ‘devastating’ consequences after losing her eggs and embryos at a prestigious IVF clinic due to an issue with the freezing process described the experience.

Experts believe that a flaw in the egg freezing procedure at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Trust in London may have tragically prevented more than 100 women from ever becoming mothers.

When Jessop “undertook a thorough investigation when they first became aware of the issue and contacted and supported any patient affected,” the regulator stated that it was pleased.

The clinic is located in Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which announced that it has identified 29 individuals who had embryos or eggs frozen in August 2022 when that specific product batch was used.

Only one of these individuals, though, “was contacted at the time and did not require further actions to be taken” since she had the defective fluid used to freeze her eggs or embryos.

“Telling those poor women they cannot use their frozen eggs is traumatizing.”

A Sheffield clinic and a London hospital are impacted by defective egg-freezing products

She has demanded that Guy’s pay for additional reproductive care. The 136 women impacted include cancer patients who later underwent womb removal surgery, it was announced today.

The announcement followed 136 women’s apologies from prestigious London hospital Guy’s and St. Thomas’, which acknowledged that their eggs and embryos had likely been harmed during the freezing procedure at its NHS-run facility.

After learning that certain bottles of the defective freezing solution may have been accidentally used in September and October of 2022, the hospital got in touch with the women.

Patients with cancer who have since undergone procedures like hysterectomies were among the ladies. The clinic said that at the time, it was unaware of the liquid’s flaws.

The manufacturing problem, according to Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, may have a negative impact on a frozen egg or embryo’s chances of surviving during thawing.

A manufacturing problem with some bottles of a solution that might have been used to freeze eggs and embryos in our assisted conception unit in September and October 2022 was brought to our attention, according to the spokeswoman.

Although the HFEA was aware that the impacted product might have been delivered to other reproductive clinics, it did not know of any other clinics where patients had been impacted. The HFEA had previously said that the situation was being investigated. Since then, the fertility regulator has stated that the problem is exclusive to the two clinics located in Sheffield and London.

The event is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HEFA).

Some women may no longer have extra eggs to freeze as a result of the time that has passed between the incidence and their knowledge of the error, therefore ending their dreams of ever becoming biological parents.

Even those who might still be able to pursue more IVF treatments may encounter far more challenges.

The likelihood of a successful IVF procedure decreases significantly with age, with women over the age of 44 having only 4% chance of success compared to 32% for those under 35. This decline occurs at a rate of roughly 7% every couple of years of age.

According to reports, Guy’s apologized for the wait and extended a counselling offer to the women.

“Our ongoing investigation only relates to Guy’s as we are satisfied that Jessop’s undertook a thorough investigation when they first became aware of the issue and contacted and supported any patient affected,” said Rachel Cutting, the HFEA’s director of compliance and information, in a statement.

Through their traceability procedures, the company that supplies the product directly to clinics will be able to track its exact journey. Additionally, the business must notify the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of any issues.

“The clinic will have alerted any patients who are likely to have been impacted. We hope that this gives everyone who is worried some peace of mind.”

It is expected that all clinics will take appropriate action upon receiving field safety notices, which we provide as needed. Clinics are legally required to report any event in compliance with our clinical governance protocols and code of practice to the HFEA.

According to our most current data, out of the nearly 100,000 treatment and storage cycles that occurred in 2022–2023, more than 99% were carried out without any accidents happening. This indicates that fertility therapy is generally highly safe in the UK.

The HFEA stated that additional information on support is available on its website for this and all aspects of reproductive treatment.

Guy’s Hospital has now established a special phone line for impacted patients. The clinic added that people who are impacted can use its counselling programme to get support.

How many ladies do egg freezes?

Data from the end of the previous year showed that women who were afraid about running out of time to become pregnant began freezing their eggs as a result of lockdowns during the Covid pandemic.

According to data, 1,874 women in the UK frozen their eggs in 2020, a nearly twofold increase from the 945 women who did the same in 2015.

Is freezing better done when one is young?

Younger women usually produce higher-quality eggs when they freeze them. As a result, when women utilise them for IVF later in life, they have a higher chance of becoming pregnant.

Thus, freezing eggs is becoming more and more common among single women or those who are postponing parenthood in order to concentrate on their careers.

And what is the price of it?

The average cost of collecting and freezing eggs is £3,350; additional costs for medication and storage can total up to £1,500 and £350 year, respectively.

Why it is preferable?

The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority states that one approach to preserve a woman’s fertility is through egg freezing, allowing her to attempt for a family down the road.

In order to use a woman’s eggs for fertility treatment, they must be collected, frozen, and then thawed at a later time. Before beginning therapy, some cancer patients are advised to freeze their eggs.

Before being fertilized, eggs are first frozen and then thawed. The eggs are fertilized before being kept in frozen embryos. This typically takes place following IVF, so nothing is lost.

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