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SA weather: Embryos destroyed at Flinders Medical Centre after generator fails in blackout

Friday September 30, 2016 - 11:31 EST
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Flinders Fertility says impacted patients have been offered counselling. - ABC

Embryos being prepared for transfer at a fertility clinic had to be destroyed due to a generator failure at Flinders Medical Centre during the South Australian blackout, the Health Minister says.

Jack Snelling told 891 ABC Adelaide 12 patients were affected by the tragedy on Wednesday, when wild storms knocked out power supplies to the entire state.

Back-up generators kicked in at Flinders Medical Centre after the blackout, but stopped after an hour, Mr Snelling said.

Mr Snelling said the generator had been checked on Monday in preparation for the storm, but a fuel pump had failed on the day.

"For our life-saving equipment, so ventilators and so on, they have a battery back-up which lasts for a couple of hours," he said.

"We took the precautionary step of moving those intensive care patients into Flinders Private where they did have power because their back-up generator was working."

But the power failure at Flinders Medical Centre also affected Flinders Fertility, a private clinic situated in the hospital.

Mr Snelling said scientists were contacted as soon as the power failed and arrived within 20 minutes.

"But without power, there was nothing they could do to save those embryos," he said.

"My understanding is they [patients affected] have all been contacted and they've all been offered counselling.

"Flinders Fertility has offered them new rounds of treatment at no cost and that they will be prioritised as well."

Number of embryos destroyed unknown

Mr Snelling said he did not know how many embryos were destroyed as a result of the power failure.

In a statement, Flinders Fertility said cryopreserved material was not affected by the power outage.

"This is a devastating situation for our patients, and very distressing for our staff," it said.

"Flinders Fertility has expressed its deepest sympathies to families whose fertility treatments were affected by [the] catastrophic power failure."

Generator issues at the Port Augusta Hospital suffered some blackouts before the entire state was plunged into darkness.

Mr Snelling said the generator was fixed, so when the state-wide power failure occurred the hospital was unaffected.


© ABC 2016

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