When pre-menopausal women hear they have cancer, they often have a choice: put their own health first at the risk of losing their fertility forever, or delay treatment long enough to have their eggs extracted and stored in the hopes of starting a family in happier times.
Danielle, Rachel, and Sarah decided they would postpone life-saving treatment and undergo the drugs and procedures required to harvest their eggs. These women dreamed of being mothers once they had beaten cancer, and they put their hope in the fertility clinic at University Hospital in Cleveland.
But the women’s hopes of starting biological families were crushed when their eggs were lost in what the hospital is calling a “catastrophic failure.” The hospital says that a number of factors, including equipment failure and human error, led to the loss of 4,000 eggs and embryos. That’s 4,000 potential lives that no longer have a chance of meeting the families who wanted them.
To the women hoping that one of those eggs would someday become their son or daughter, the blow was devastating.
Rachel Mehl, one of the cancer survivors now suing the hospital for damages, shared that during cancer treatment she dreamed of the day when she could put her sickness beside her and start the family she’d always dreamed of, “But now that light has been extinguised.”
These three women, led by women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, are suing the hospital for damages and legal fees and alleging negligence, recklessness, and breach of contract.
Sarah Deer said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit, “I am a woman wounded, robbed by cancer of my health and the body that I once knew, and robbed by University Hospitals of my future.”
Our hearts hurt for these women whose hopes were dashed, and we hope that somehow they find a way to fulfill their dream of becoming mothers. Watch them share in the video below.
“NEXT” to read about the safety of pregnancy after breast cancer
Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.