The frozen sperm of three patients suffering from illnesses or undergoing treatments that could make them infertile was destroyed by Northwestern Memorial Hospital, according to an emergency discovery petition filed Monday.
The plaintiffs, listed as Joseph Doe, John Doe and James Doe, claim their sperm was being stored in the hospital¹s cryogenic systems when it was destroyed, according to a release from the lawfirm Corboy & Demetrio, which filed the petition in Cook County Circuit Court.
James Doe, 33, was undergoing radical chemotherapy treatments that would likely make him sterile, the release said. John Doe, 26, and John Doe, 48, both suffered illnesses that could make them infertile.
"Northwestern admitted there was a failure and it adversely affected the specimens of all three victims," attorney Matthew Jenkins said in the release.
Northwestern Faculty Foundation personnel discovered Monday, April 23, that a cryogenic storage tank used for long-term storage of sperm samples malfunctioned during the weekend, according to an NFF statement.
A round-the-clock alarm system embedded in the control panel attached to the unit failed to alert technicians to the problem, which was discovered that Monday during routine operations.
The sperm samples were immediately transferred to a working cyrogenic freezer but the samples suffered some "adverse impact," the statement said, adding many samples can still be used for in vitro fertilization.
Physicians personally contacted 200 patients to inform them of the equipment failure in the NMFF sperm bank and to help "plan their best next steps," the statement said.
A routine maintenance check was conducted on the cryogenic storage tank in July 2011 when minor maintenance was completed, the release said. No problems with the control panel were detected at the time.