Man sues hospital after malfunctioning tanks destroys sperm (Tribune illustration)

A man is suing Northwestern Memorial Hospitaland Northwestern Medical Faculty after he claims the hospital’s cryopreservation tanks malfunctioned, thawing and irreversibly damaging sperm he had stored at the facility.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, the loss of his frozen semen now means the man can no longer conceive a biological child.

The man, who remains anonymous in the lawsuit under the ficticious name “John Anonymous,” supplied semen in “good condition” to Northwestern Memorial for safekeeping in 2008 and paid regular storage fees.

Sometime between April and June 2012, the lawsuit alleges all of the plaintiff’s semen samples were thawed and irreversibly damaged because of a failure in the cryopreservation tank in which they were stored.

The destroyed sperm means the man has lost the ability to conceive his own biological child, according to the lawsuit. 

Attached as evidence in the lawsuit was a letter from Dr. Phillip Roemer, the chief medical officer of the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, addressing the failed cryopreservation tank and its impact on the stored sperm.

In the letter, Roemer wrote, “…we acknowledge that the incident likely as adversely affected these samples.”

In July, three men who also claim their sperm was destroyed by Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation filed an emergency motion to protect records and to inspect the hospitals’ cryopreservation system.

The men, 26, 33 and 48 years old, had their sperm frozen because they suffer from illnesses or were facing medical treatment that could make them infertile, lawyers said in July.

A Northwestern Memorial Hospital spokesperson could not be reached for comment Monday night.

Calls to the anonymous man’s lawyer, Chicago-based attorney Emily Herrell, were not immediately returned Monday night.

bdoyle@tribune.com