A Letter About Their Embryos Sends Couple Into a Tailspin

Hospital allegedly knew for years Elaine Meyer and Barry Prizant's 2 embryos were missing
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2021 2:55 PM CDT
A Letter About Their Embryos Sends Couple Into a Tailspin
In this 2013 file photo, an in vitro fertilization embryologist works on a petri dish at a fertility clinic in London.   (AP Photo/Sang Tan, File)

Over the decade beginning in 2010, a study determined that 133 lawsuits had been filed in connection with lost, discarded, or damaged frozen embryos. Dr. Elaine Meyer and Dr. Barry Prizant are engaged in one such lawsuit, and Katherine Rosman dives into their story for the New York Times. The Rhode Island couple suffered a series of miscarriages before turning to Women & Infants Hospital in 1995. After several cycles of IVF, Meyer became pregnant and gave birth to their son, Noah. In 2000, they returned to the hospital in the hopes of having a child via the nine embryos that remained. Three survived the thawing process, and to the couple's knowledge, all three were implanted. A pregnancy did not result. The couple resigned themselves to life with one child. Then in 2017, two letters from Women & Infants arrived.

One read, "If you would like WIH to continue to store your embryos/oocytes, please return a copy of this letter, signed and notarized, along with a check in the amount of $500." Meyer and Prizant, now 63 and 69, respectively, learned that two of their embryos had been discovered at the bottom of tank in 2010. The vial they were in had a crack in it, meaning the tank's nitrogen cooling agent would have seeped in; the embryos were almost certainly not viable. And it turns out there was a note in her medical file: "2 missing." The hospital suggested the couple had been told decades ago the embryos were missing and simply forgot. "There is no way on God’s green earth," says Meyer. Displeased with the hospital's response the couple have sued for breach of contract, negligence, bailment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Meanwhile, they're trying to decide what to do with the embryos. (Read the full story for much more.)

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