Broken Hearts... Broken Dreams: The Liquid Nitrogen Tank Malfunctions & How YOU Can Help!

I remember the days when I was deep into my infertility journey. At that time, my husband was an active duty Naval Officer. He would deploy for months at a time. During the early years of our infertility journey, we cryopreserved his sperm so I could do IUI's while he was out at sea. Later in our journey, we depended on doing Frozen Embryo Transfers (FETs) to continue trying to conceive when he would deploy for long periods of time. 

I never really thought about the nitrogen running low or the power going out on those cryopreservation tanks. I just assumed that our embryos would be there for us when we were ready to use them. Sometimes I would imagine our little embryos tucked safely away in those neat little tanks, ready to be used at a later time for us. 

I can't imagine how devastated I would be if all my embryos were no longer viable due to a nitrogen tank malfunction. My heart cracked in two when I learned of the malfunctions in CA and in OH last week. My mind thought about all those women who were faced with cancer at a very young age. They had to cryopreserve their eggs in order to preserve their fertility. Not only did they have to fight for their own lives, but also the lives of their unborn children. 

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All their hopes and dreams of becoming a mother... 

GONE!

I also thought of those who were doing multiple IVF's in order to cryopreserve their younger embryos in the hopes that they could build their families down the road. Some people probably hadn't even gotten pregnant once yet.  But all of their embryos are now...

GONE!

And what about the LGBTQ community. Of course they depend on frozen embryos too. So many people are affected. So many people are devastated. All their hopes and dreams of building their families are...

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There is so little that one can do in times of crisis like this. So much of what happens when we are on our fertility journeys is out of our control. However, when these two malfunctions happened, I try to think of what I CAN do! People with infertility matter, our issues matter, and our mission matters.

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The day of the first tank malfunction, I received an email from Barbara Collura, the president of RESOLVE, to all the advocates, subscribers and supporters. The email stated that RESOLVE vowed to "get to the bottom of what happened" to those nitrogen tanks so that this will "not ever happen again." Barbara asked us to share her concerns on our social media platforms and this is exactly what I want to do. 

Here is the email I received from RESOLVE

The force of RESOLVE’s mission is growing and it’s because of people just like you. People that plan ahead for National Infertility Awareness Week®, take time out of their busy lives to attend Advocacy Day, or stand up for what they believe in and participate in a Walk of Hope. It’s happening, the force of RESOLVE’s mission is growing and the media, our government and our communities are taking notice. 

 My husband and I loved getting involved. Here we are are riding the Senate underground tram at Infertility Advocacy Day in May 2017 and we will be heading back again in May 2018. 

My husband and I loved getting involved. Here we are are riding the Senate underground tram at Infertility Advocacy Day in May 2017 and we will be heading back again in May 2018. 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/12/health/frozen-eggs-second-clinic-malfunction/index.html

This week the media released two stories that rocked the infertility community. Two labs in two different clinics, thousands of miles apart, experienced a breakdown with their storage tanks. Hundreds of patients were impacted, leaving experts and leaders in our community wondering how something like this can happen despite a rigorous checks and balance system. Read RESOLVE’s statement here.

 This is a photograph of liquid nitrogen tanks similar to what malfunctioned in two separate parts of the country this week. 

This is a photograph of liquid nitrogen tanks similar to what malfunctioned in two separate parts of the country this week. 

Besides the impact of this tragic news on patients, what keeps RESOLVE up at night about these situations? Two things.

One: That there isn’t enough access to support. That’s why support groups are so vital. Start a support group in your community. We’ll help you every step of the way.

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Two: This situation will prompt those outside the reproductive medicine community (like media and lawmakers) to make uninformed assumptions about infertility and its treatment. We can’t let that happen. It’s vital that we show up in force (there’s that word again!) in Washington, DC, May 22-23, for RESOLVE’s Advocacy Day, in partnership with ASRM. We need to ensure that lawmakers are having conversations about infertility with us, and not without us. Register for Infertility Advocacy Day. 

#FliptheScript Here

Take Action:

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Are you ready to #FlipTheScript?

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RESOLVE needs your help to ensure that the public, media, insurers, healthcare professionals and lawmakers understand:

  • The scope of the problem and who is struggling to build a family.
  • There are many barriers for millions of people who struggle to build a family. These barriers include: lack of insurance coverage, out-of-pocket costs, faith and religion, sexual orientation, and state and federal laws.
  • The impact of infertility is far reaching—it impacts family, friends, co-workers, and employers.
  • Check out www.infertilityawareness.org for ways to get involved. NIAW starts in six weeks.
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Advocate Today

Making an Impact: 

We Need You!

One of the biggest areas where the RESOLVE force is having an impact is on state advocacy. It’s only March, but we’ve seen a record-breaking volume of state legislation that would impact people who struggle to build a family, sometimes in a positive way and sometimes in a negative way.

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Since January, RESOLVE has been tracking 53 bills in 26 states, with the following breakdown by issue:

  • Personhood (which could restrict access to IVF): AZ, CO, IA, KS, KY, MN, NC, SC, TN, WA, WV
  • Gestational Carrier Surrogacy (some bills increase access to surrogacy, while others will make it harder for people to access surrogacy as an option): CA, HI, MN, NE, NJ, NY, RI, UT, VT, WA
  • Insurance Mandates (Fertility Preservation and/or Infertility): AZ, CA, DE, HI, IL, KY, MD, MS, MO, NE, NY, OK, PA, SC, VT, UT
  • Other important issues: MD, NY, TN

For bill descriptions and status by state, click here.

Get involved with state advocacy and keep the force strong! Grassroots volunteer advocates are key to our success in ensuring our voice is heard. 

To wrap it up,  when something bad happens, like the malfunctions of the nitrogen tanks, we can choose to throw our hands up and do nothing. Or if this latest crisis to hit the fertility community has sparked an interest in you to do more to help those who long to build their families, please click on the links in this email and get involved today. 

In-Fertility & Friendship, 

Sue

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