Fertility Clinic Sued For Implanting ‘Dead Embryos’ During IVF Procedures

Nine couples filed joint lawsuits against a fertility clinic in Newport Beach, California, accusing the in vitro fertilization provider of intentionally implanting deceased embryos into patients.

According to People, up to two joint lawsuits filed against Ovation Fertility allege that a lab embryologist with the clinic wrongly injected the dead embryos with hydrogen peroxide or another toxic substance instead of using a sterile solution while the embryos were in an incubator.

This, the filings claim, caused the embryos to be “killed instantly.”

The lawsuit makes the case that employees at Ovation knew that the embryos were dead by the time they were to be implanted but decided to implant them “into the would-be mothers” to cover up their mistake.

Now, the plaintiffs are suing the clinic for fraud, negligence, negligent misrepresentation as well as medical battery.

While most of the plaintiffs have chosen anonymity, one of them, a couple, shared their experience at the clinic with People in an attempt to explain why they took legal action against the clinic.

According to Brooke Berger and her husband Bennet Hardy, finding out that they had gone through a procedure that had no chance of success after two years of pursuing IVF treatments two years ago was difficult.

“It’s been very difficult and has taken such a toll. There was no chance at all. We found out that we went through all of this for nothing. It was really heartbreaking,” Berger told the outlet.

The couple’s attorney, Robert H. Marcereau weighed in, saying, “The story that came up more often and more consistently — at least three or four times with our clients — getting it secondhand from their doctors, was this notion that somehow hydrogen peroxide had been accidentally introduced into the incubator while the embryos were there, which hydrogen peroxide, it’s basically like battery acid to those embryos.”

“It’s a very caustic substance, particularly if it’s a higher percentage strength. And it was lethal to them. That’s why there was a 100% mortality rate for these embryos during this period. But Ovation has never come out and said exactly what happened,” he continued, adding that Ovulation has failed to put in place qualified personnel and protocols to avoid errors like this.

Instead, the clinic had chosen medicine after death, as the couple said that they were offered a refund of the cost of the procedure in order to avoid legal action.

The plaintiffs seek jury trials and unspecified compensation for damages. There might be some criminal charges brewing, as Marcereau said, “We can’t speak to whether or not there may be some criminal action. We haven’t gotten to the bottom of what happened with the embryos. But it can certainly be criminal. We have a lot of questions and no answers yet. That’s what this litigation is going to be about. We want answers for these grieving couples and ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”

Ovation defended itself in a statement to People, saying that it “has protocols in place to protect the health and integrity of every embryo under our care.”

“This was an isolated incident related to an unintended laboratory technician error that impacted a very small number of patients. As soon as we recognized that pregnancy numbers were lower than our usually high success rates, we immediately initiated an investigation. We have been in close contact with these few impacted patients since the issue was discovered. We are grateful for the opportunity to help patients build a family and will continue to implement and enforce rigorous protocols to safeguard that process,” a spokesperson for the fertility clinic wrote.

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