SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Questions and uncertainty plague several families contemplating legal action Wednesday after a weekend malfunction at a San Francisco fertility clinic put the eggs and embryos of hundreds of patients at risk.
Bill Taroli is one of the many patients at Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco whose reproductive future is now completely uncertain.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll find out the outcome is OK, but we just don’t know,” said Taroli.
Taroli doesn’t know if his son Henry will ever have the sister he and Taroli’s husband Yang were hoping to possibly have one day.
“Our plan had been originally to have two, and one of our four remaining embryos is a girl,” said Taroli. “So we thought we’d have a boy and a girl.”
The couple had Henry with an egg donor through in vitro fertilization at Pacific Fertility.
Over the weekend the news broke that inside the center, nitrogen levels in one of their large cryo storage tanks dropped for a brief period of time, putting thousands of embryos at risk.
Taroli found out not from his doctor, but by watching the news. When his doctor did call, he couldn’t offer any answers.
“They either are alive or dead,” explained Taroli. “And we don’t know until you open the box to thaw them and see what’s going on.”
For patients like Taroli and his husband, this isn’t just an emotional investment that is now at risk. It’s also a large financial one, having paid about $50,000 to PFC. Now they have to decide if being part of a class action lawsuit is worth their while.
One patient filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday night accusing Pacific Fertility Center of negligence.
Lawyers for that firm told KPIX 5 they’re encouraging patients like Taroli and his husband to join in.
But he says they want to wait for answers from PFC. He is hoping for good news, but he can’t help but wonder if this malfunction permanently closed a door for his family’s future.
“It’s like your hopes and dreams for your children or anything else you have, those possibilities in your head of the things you expect to do or might do,” said Taroli. “And this could just end that. That’s the hard part.”
Lawyers for the firm that filed the lawsuit argue Pacific Fertility Center didn’t do enough to mitigate risk. They say more protections for the embryos should have been in place.