Local mom donates frozen embryos to families who lost theirs at UH Fertility Clinic

PEPPER PIKE, OH (WOIO) - A local mother of two said she is donating her frozen embryos to those who lost eggs and embryos in the freezer failure at University Hospitals Fertility Clinic.

The failure, which happened over a weekend, resulted in the possible loss of 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos.

Niki Schaefer knows the struggle with infertility all too well. After years of trying to conceive children, she gave birth to a son, Noah, and daughter, Lane, through in vitro fertilization. She says she could immediately relate to families affected by the UH disaster.

"My heart broke for them. You know, I would look at Lane, who was a frozen embryo, and to think that people lost their chance to have her is heartbreaking for them," said Schaefer.

She knows one of the doctors at the clinic well, and says she worked with him in her own procedures. She says the doctors are brokenhearted by the loss, too.

"Everyone just feels a tremendous sense of loss that's hard to grapple with," she said.

She decided she would do something to help. She picked up the phone and called one of the doctors. Her own embryos, four of them, left after the birth of Lane, had been frozen for several years, stored at another facility, and ready to be used.

"I really had always been on the fence about what to do with them, and it seemed like this perfect storm of events that told me what to do, so I told Dr. Goldfaarb that I would be donating them to the families that were affected this," said Schaefer.

She says since she made the call and posted about it on social media, other women have done the same, volunteering their frozen embryos to families who may have lost the opportunity to undergo the procedure again.

Schaefer says if there's one thing she wants to come out of this, it's hope.

"I hope that the women who can't do it on their own use donated ones to try again, and I hope that this inspires them to do that," she said.

UH still has not determined what caused the freezer failure at the fertility clinic. They say an extensive investigation is ongoing.

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