enjoy having people over for dinner are fiercely passionate about preparing excellent food and pushing our own comfort zones (at least a little) and those of the subjects of our routine culinary experiments our dinner guests. A usual escapade includes a fully themed meal complete with an appetizer, a carefully selected main course, complementary side dishes that receive as much attention and fuss as the main, and dessert. If we have a full day to do this, I’ll lookup whatever the appropriately matching beverage might be given the cuisine choice and I’ll figure out if the bread native to that part of the world is manageable a) at all and b) given the rest of what I have to do before I can get dinner on the table. This is my favorite kind of day and Greek, Argentinian, Turkish, and Indian are my current favorites to explore.
I wanted to do this last Sunday, but we were leisurely getting out the door at my parents’ and got home from a weekend there at about 4pm — that event was made *way* funnier by the fact that Amanda thought we were getting back at 3pm and she would have a full hour to tidy up the house before our friends came over. Enter Daylight Savings Time. 3pm turned into 4pm with the touch of a button while we were 5 minutes from home. It was fun to experience an hour’s worth of picking and putting happen in a very small fraction of that time.
So, no, we didn’t have a wonderfully complicated dinner, but we did have a pretty good time regardless: Chipotle and an aggressively hilarious card game with a really awesome group of humans. And then things got weird. Like, this-stuff-only-happens-in-movies-weird.
Amanda’s phone rang at something like 9pm (unusual on its own). It was a San Francisco number (which made the 9pm call time less unusual; 9pm CST is 7pm PST) and it is highly unusual for Amanda to answer an unfamiliar number unless it is from California; we get a fair amount of surrogacy related phone calls from California numbers that are not familiar. Given all of that, she picked up the phone and spoke briefly with a…
Reporter?? Only hearing her side of the conversation was something out of an expertly-written suspense novel. Obviously the card game came to an abrupt halt as we all strained to hear the voice on the other end of the line.
Reporter: *indecipherable phone voice*
Amanda: Oh, hi!!
Reporter: *more garbled rubbish*
Amanda: *laughs* Oh, it’s fine.
Reporter: *asghj;aofiughqpweo… lots of this and a very long pause from Amanda*
Amanda: “No, I don’t have any samples stored there.”
Me: *pantomiming a nuclear explosion as I whisper-scream* What?!!
Reporter: *stuff and things I couldn’t make out*
Amanda: *assertively pointing at me like it will calm me down and continuing in a calm tone with the reporter* Oh, okay. No problem! Have a good night… Yup… Uh-huh… Buh-bye.
Me & the table: What on earth??!
Amanda spent the next few minutes explaining the call. It didn’t really make a lot of sense or help answer any questions until we did some Googling and found this.
The nutshell version of that link is that a week ago Sunday, so March 4th, two separate fertility clinics in two very different parts of the country run completely independently of one another each experienced a failure of an embryo storage freezer, nearly simultaneously. One of them houses the embryo we will (would?) soon be transferring. I told you this got weird fast. We relayed the news to our super awesome agency, Gifted Journeys, and got a “Say what now?!!” followed by an “Ohhhh nooo…” Apparently we were called only 4 hours after the story broke on the internet. Fast forward to today and there are several lawsuits in motion, a couple of which being class-action in nature.
I feel for these potential biological parents and, in some very sad cases, former potential biological parents who no longer have the option to have biologically related children. Yes, in a few tragic cases being reported, hopeful parents had all their eggs in one freezer.
My knee-jerk reactions to this are these:
- How did we get here?
- Shouldn’t there be redundancies in place for all things that service a freezer of this nature?
- Liquid nitrogen?
- Battery backups that activate until a generator kicks on?
- Sensors on all of these things to report failures?
- Shouldn’t all the equipment involved be on a life-cycle and have a strictly-adhered-to replacement date as appropriate (i.e. a freezer is, at least theoretically, more reliable/stable than a sensor that would constantly monitor its temperature or coolant levels? (Full disclosure: I don’t know that this isn’t true; just a question that rattled off in my IT-process-driven brain.)
- Shouldn’t there be an employee on staff at every fertility clinic to do routine checks of all the equipment daily and log the information?
- Shouldn’t parents with more than one biological specimen, be they sperm, egg, or embryo, be given a complimentary mandated option to split the samples between different freezers to protect against the incredibly rare circumstance that a failure such as this represents?
- Is a cooperation between clinics with these service capabilities a really good idea to cover more usual types of calamity, such as earthquakes (one of the fertility clinics in the article is in CA and there’s this thing called the San Andreas Fault that may or may not send the state careening off into the Pacific Ocean; okay that won’t happen, but according to the United States Geological Survey, LA and SanFran will one day be neighbors), tornadoes, fires, floods, civil unrest, etc? I think so. Fun fact: that’s exactly what Amazon does with their website so you’ll never be without low-margin online shopping as long as we don’t have some globe-ending event like an asteroid or nuclear war. Hey Alexa, that’s pretty cool!
This all just makes a lot of sense to me. Now I fully realize that this level of redundancy and monitoring is expensive, but I guarantee it’s a teeny tiny fraction of what the class-action lawsuits that are inevitable as the result of a failure of this magnitude will cost.
So this is a lot of gloom and doom. Where do we find ourselves in the midst of this legal maelstrom and media dumpster fire? In a surprisingly, though very much welcome, quiet place.
Our clinic contacted us with our calendar a day after the incident, by the numbers, so it would seem our IP’s (intended parents) are in the clear; the thinking there is that the clinic immediately knew the list of people who had samples or embryos stored in the failed tank and wouldn’t call us with instructions and a plan to proceed without first confirming the integrity of the embryo we would be receiving. We haven’t gotten a call explicitly stating that our IP’s embryo is safe in regards to the recent cryotank failure.
According to several news outlets, all parties storing any samples or embryos at the affected fertility clinics were notified early last week; calls were made to unaffected parties, partially affected parties as they had samples in fully functional tanks in addition to the failed tanks, and, most devastating, parties who lost all of their samples or embryos. By this logic, our IP’s already know their outcome of this disaster. It’s been 11 days since the incidents in Ohio and San Francisco and we have heard nothing from our IP’s.
No news is good news. We think.