CHLA Apologizes to Patient Families for Freezer Failure

Published on 
September 25, 2019

Earlier this month, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles sent letters to 56 patients and their families to notify them of a freezer malfunction that resulted in the loss of their child’s blood stem cells. No child's health is in jeopardy due to this incident. 

We apologize for any distress or confusion that this has caused our patients and their families. We have set up a dedicated phone line for families to call with questions at ­­­­­­­­­­­­­1-877-622-2130.

If you have not received a letter or phone call from our team, your child is not impacted.

It was also brought to our attention that the letters informing families of this incident were addressed to the patients. We apologize for this oversight. We are reviewing our notification processes to ensure this does not happen again.  

These blood stem cells, all of which were collected from patients, were in long-term storage. We routinely collect cells early in a child’s course of oncology therapy for possible future use. When excess cells are not needed, they remain in storage in the unlikely event that they could become helpful in the future.

We are very sorry that this loss occurred. The cause was a failure of freezer temperature sensors. Safeguards were in place at the time but were insufficient. Since that time, we have replaced the freezer that malfunctioned, upgraded our sensor monitoring and alert system, double-checked all power supply sources, increased our maintenance schedule and launched training for the engineering team on the new system.

Our team will connect affected families with experts to answer any questions they may have. We are also prepared to support these patients and families in any follow-up care that they might need.

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