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Frozen Sperm from Ill Patients Destroyed

by sperm.com
​Three men filed a motion to inspect Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s cryopreservation system after a system failure destroyed their sperm. These men each suffer from an illness that puts them at risk of becoming sterile. To leave open the possibility of becoming fathers, they froze sperm samples at the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation.
 
The trouble arose on April 21 and 22, when a cryogenic storage tank at the facility malfunctioned, as did the 24-hour alarm system designed to alert lab technicians of such a system failure. By the time technicians discovered the malfunction on April 23, however, some of the specimens had been adversely affected by the tank failure. According to the foundation, about 80 percent of the specimens may still be viable for in vitro fertilization procedures. Patients can have their specimens analyzed for viability, or they can elect to submit new samples.

Three of those patients chose to file an emergency motion to protect records concerning the destruction of their sperm and investigate the facility’s cryopreservation system. Their concerns are legitimate. Certain illnesses and treatments for medical conditions, such as chemotherapy for cancer, can render men sterile. Not to mention there are other life situations that can get in the way or delay plans to have children. Freezing and preserving sperm allows men to keep their options open should they decide to start a family one day. When cryopreservation systems work properly, sperm can be stored long-term and kept viable for in vitro fertilization procedures.

Northwestern is investigating the malfunction. It is still unclear how the tank malfunctioned when it showed no problems at the last inspection. The facility’s primary concern, though, is informing patients of their options. For the men whose sperm was destroyed, it can mean the difference between becoming a father or not.

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