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Disaster Planning and Colleagues’ Cooperation Mitigate Harms to Patients from Hurricane Sandy

October 16 , 2013
by: ASRM Office of Public Affairs
Published in ASRM Press Release


Boston, MA-  Last October, Hurricane Sandy devastated great swaths of the eastern United States. New York City was hit particularly hard, with flooding and power outages following the deluge. When the power went out at NYU Langone Medical Center’s ART clinic, patient treatment decisions had to be made quickly for those who were scheduled for egg retrieval and for those whose embryos were developing in incubators.

Back-up generators were able to power the fertility center’s incubators and maintain embryo culture conditions in the incubators for 12 hours until the generator power was compromised by regulations that only allowed 50 gallons of fuel oil to be available on the roof. The generator powered the facility from 8 pm the night of the storm surge until 930 am the next morning. At that point two uninterruptible power supply units were activated to maintain short-term embryo culture. NYU Langone’s disaster plan offered two options: one, to freeze all embryos or two, to transport the embryos to a nearby ART lab with power. The team elected to freeze all the embryos, at their current stage of development, using a vitrification technique. Ninety embryos were frozen and immediately transferred to cryostorage tanks. Of the 10 patients who had embryos frozen, six patients returned for a frozen embryo transfer cycle and all have ongoing pregnancies or live births.  Two of the 10 patients had no normal embryos after preimplantation genetic screening, one patient has two genetically normal embryos in cryostorage but is pregnant from a subsequent in vitro fertilization cycle, and one patient had no embryo transfer.  34 additional embryos belonging to 7 of these patients are in cryostorage for future use.

In addition, provisions had to be made for 21 patients who were scheduled for oocyte retrieval when the hurricane hit. NYU Langone personnel contacted four nearby fertility centers unaffected by Sandy and made arrangements to have the patients’ retrievals at these four clinics. The decision was made for several patients who had not planned to freeze eggs to be given emergency oocyte cryopreservation (EOC). To determine if this decision was detrimental to the patients, NYU Langone researchers compared outcomes from the EOC cycles to outcomes from previous scheduled ovarian cryopreservation cycles (SOCs) performed at the NYU Fertility Center. Seven of the EOC patients returned for completion of their IVF. Of these two were excluded because they underwent embryo biopsy, and three of the remaining five (60%) have ongoing pregnancies or live births. This compares to 46% of patients who had SOC and have ongoing pregnancies or live births.

SART President, David Ball, PhD, remarked,  “The staff’s quick-thinking, the proximity of generous colleagues who still had power, and having a disaster plan in place allowed NYU patients whose ART treatment was threatened by Sandy to continue their cycles with little impact on their ultimate chances of success.  The NYU experience serves to underscore the importance of both advance planning for emergencies and having the knowledge to utilize available resources to the best advantage in such a crisis.”

P-123  No Embryos Left Behind: Emergent Vitrification of 90 Embryos During Hurricane Sandy
KN Goldman et al

P-940  Blame It on the Rain:  Salvaging In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Cycles Threatened by Hurricane Sandy (HS) Using Emergency Oocyte Cryopreservation
KN Goldman et al

Representing more than 50 fertility societies from around the globe, the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) is the world’s principal international fertility organization. The IFFS was founded in 1951, and held its first congress in New York in 1953. The IFFS mission is to stimulate basic and clinical research, disseminate education and encourage superior clinical care of patients in infertility and reproductive medicine. Website: 

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, founded in 1944, is an organization of more than 7,000 physicians, researchers, nurses, technicians and other professionals dedicated to advancing knowledge and expertise in reproductive biology.  Affiliated societies include the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, the Society of Reproductive Surgeons and the Society of Reproductive Biologists and Technologists.

For more information on these press releases, contact:

J. Benjamin Younger Office of Public Affairs
409 12th Street SW, Suite 203
Washington, DC 20024-2188
Tel: (202) 863-2494/Fax: (202) 484-4039


Eleanor Nicoll
Phone: 202-863-2439


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