Shattered California couple is suing against the Fujifilm Irvine Scientific, maker of the embryo culture oil used in IVF Treatment to prevent evaporation suppose to protect the embryo
A California couple who was hoping to start a family someday turned to IVF and storing their embryos with a plan to use them later to have “one or more children,” according to a lawsuit. But in January, the couple received news they had hoped to never hear from their fertility clinic. All of the embryos they’d stored were damaged.
In a very surprising statement the clinic told them the embryos had been destroyed “upon coming into contact with oil” that was supposed to help protect them, the lawsuit states.
Now, the Los Angeles couple is suing Fujifilm Irvine Scientific, maker of the embryo culture oil, which is intended to help prevent evaporation and keep pH levels stable. The complaint was filed Thursday in Orange County Superior Court.
Fujifilm’s oil for embryo culture is used for IVF processes across the world. In mid-January, the company recalled four lots of the oil – including that one which had been used with the couple’s embryos, according to the lawsuit.
The couple, identified only as A.B. and C.D., “are devastated,” the complaint states, adding: “They may no longer be able to have children with their genetic material as a result of Defendant’s conduct.”
On Jan. 16, Fujifilm recalled four lots of its “Oil for Embryo Culture” after receiving complaints about the oil’s impact on embryo cultures. The company then investigated and detected “oil toxicity” in three of four lots that had been made using the same raw material, the company said in a statement Monday.
“While the natural variability of embryo development can be a substantial obstacle to successful fertility treatments, many factors may influence the success of IVF procedures,” Fujifilm said.
The company clarified that it issued the voluntary recall for the four lots of oil “in consideration of the customer complaints, the results of our internal analysis and out of an abundance of caution.”
Fujifilm sent a recall letter to all the clinics and labs that purchased products from any of the four oil lots, said Joe Metzger, a spokesperson for the company. The letter instructed them to quarantine any oil they had left in inventory and return or destroy the rest.
The Los Angeles couple was told after the recall letter was issued that their embryos were destroyed by oil that was part of the recalled lots, the complaint says. Fujifilm “acted negligently by failing to recall its Recalled Embryo Oil Lots earlier, including before such oil came into contact with Plaintiffs’ embryos,” the lawsuit alleges.
“Clinics naturally understand and believe that the products they use from suppliers should be trusted,” said Adam Wolf, an attorney representing the couple.
If the case goes to trial, Wolf said, the company “needs to be held accountable” with “real serious, lasting repercussions for sending out contaminated products that ruined people’s embryos.”
He also said he hopes the case serves as a lesson for other manufacturers in the fertility industry about the importance of proper testing and production.
“People become, quite understandably, very emotionally attached to their embryos,” Wolf said. “Those embryos represent their future children and their ability to become parents.”