Couple in Virginia sue Chrissy Teigen-backed IVF company over claims its faulty freezing solution destroyed their embryos – amid fears THOUSANDS of families were impacted

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • A Virginia couple has sued the company, making them the eighth in two months
  • Kearsten, 39, and Zachary Walden lost their six fertilized eggs
  • READ MORE: ‘Horrifying’ fault at prestigious UK fertility clinic destroys eggs

A Virginia couple have sued a scandal-hit IVF company, claiming its faulty freezing liquid destroyed their embryos and ruined their dreams of becoming biological parents.

Kearsten and Zachary Walden, both 39, filed a lawsuit against CooperSurgical on Thursday, making them the eighth US family to do so in two months.

Exactly how many patients have been affected is not clear, but experts estimate it to be thousands.

The Connecticut-based company is also facing scandal in the UK over claims its freezing liquid was missing a key ingredient which meant embryos did not develop.

The Waldens underwent a decade of desperately trying to conceive before starting IVF in the fall of 2023. 

They were given the devastating news on Thanksgiving morning that all six of their healthy embryos had suddenly stopped growing, rendering them unusable. 

Kearsten and Zachary Walden underwent a decade of desperately trying to conceive before starting IVF in the fall of 2023

Thousands of women are thought to be affected, with a significant portion in the US.

The Waldens, from Norfolk, Virginia, adopted their son six years ago but were over the moon to see that Mr Walden’s health insurance plan had started to offer fertility coverage.

The couple had an initial round of treatment which gave them six fertilized eggs.

They were feeling hopeful, they told the New York Times, until they received a call on Thanksgiving morning informing them that all the embryos had stopped developing.

Mrs Walden, 39, said: ‘I very much blamed myself, being older.’

In January, the clinic told her that they had used the defective CooperSurgical solution on her embryos.

The liquid is thought to be missing magnesium, which is necessary for the growth of the embryo. 

The mineral plays a vital role in nerve and muscle function and helps a baby build strong teeth and bones.

‘It was a roller coaster of emotions,’ Mrs Walden said. ‘It was, wait a minute, so we’re not at fault, and not to blame. Then it was, how does something like this happen?’

Sarah London, partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, who represents the Waldens, said: ‘The combination of lax regulations and huge potential for profit off hopeful parents makes fertility a perfect space for corporations to cut corners and prioritize their shareholders. 

‘Unfortunately, the Waldens and too many others are paying the price for CooperSurgical’s focus on profit over safety.

‘Our firm has held fertility corporations accountable before, and we look forward to shining a light on CooperSurgical for the irreparable harm and pain they have caused.’

CooperSurgical, a US pharma giant based in Connecticut, is at the center of the fertility scandal

CooperSurgical, a US pharma giant based in Connecticut, is at the center of the fertility scandal

CooperSurgical, which has previously worked with model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen, is facing lawsuits over a type of solution that is used to help embryos grow.

The company, one of largest of its kind worldwide, supplies liquid used by fertility clinics across the world to freeze eggs and embryos as part of IVF treatment.

Federal regulators this week publicized CooperSurgical’s recall of three lots of the liquid, known as culture media, which had been used by clinics in November and December.

Grieving would-be parents undergoing fertility treatment claimed embryos they hoped would become their children failed to grow because the liquid they were placed in lacked a key nutritional ingredient. 

The Waldens’ lawsuit claims that the three batches of the media were without a key ingredient – magnesium – which meant that the liquid prevented the embryos from developing and ultimately made them unviable. 

Another lawsuit involved a Los Angeles couple who lost 34 embryos due to the contaminated liquid.

The couple dreamed of becoming parents for years and even sold their car to pay for fertility treatments.

Their 34 embryos had been developing perfectly, only for the clinic to tell them they had all inexplicably stalled.

In total, the couples have lost over 100 embryos that were kept in the defunct liquid. 

On Wednesday, the FDA posted a recall notice for almost 1,000 bottles of culture media, roughly half of which were bought by clinics in America.

The company has notified clinics on December 13, it said, warning them that ‘performance issues may lead to impaired embryo development’ and directing customers to stop using the product.

CooperSurgical, whose parent company raked in almost $1billion in revenue last year in America, with more than 40 percent coming from its fertility services.

IVF is one of several fertility treatments available to conceive a baby. During the process, an egg is removed from the ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a lab. This embryo is then implanted into the woman’s uterus to grow and develop. 

The odds of successful IVF rapidly diminish as women age, from 32 percent for women under 35, to just four percent for women over 44, declining by about six or seven percent for every couple of years of age. 

The procedure costs between $12,000 and $14,000 for one cycle in the US. 


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