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Gaza's IVF Embryos Destroyed: 5,000 Lives in One Shell

Photo: Reuters

In December, Gaza's largest fertility clinic suffered a devastating blow when an Israeli shell struck, shattering the hopes of hundreds of Palestinian couples. The explosion tore through the embryology unit, causing havoc as five liquid nitrogen tanks were ruptured, unleashing a cascade of destruction.

The repercussions were profound, reflecting the unseen toll of Israel's assault on Gaza's 2.3 million residents. The 5,000 embryos and additional specimens of sperm and unfertilized eggs stored at the Al Basma IVF center in Gaza City were wiped out in an instant.

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Bahaeldeen Ghalayini, the clinic's founder, lamented the loss, emphasizing the profound significance of those 5,000 lives, or potential lives, to the hopeful parents. Many of the affected couples, unable to produce viable embryos themselves, now face the grim reality of never having another chance at pregnancy.

Seba Jaafarawi's three-year journey through fertility treatments encapsulated the emotional roller coaster experienced by many. Despite the physical and emotional challenges, she and her husband pursued IVF as their last resort. Their initial success, a long-awaited pregnancy, was overshadowed by the outbreak of violence just days before her scheduled ultrasound.

The subsequent escalation of conflict further jeopardized Jaafarawi's pregnancy, forcing her to flee to safety amid the chaos. As she grappled with fear and uncertainty, the deteriorating situation in Gaza took its toll on her fragile pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Ajjour, the clinic's chief embryologist, faced his own challenges in maintaining the integrity of the precious specimens amidst the turmoil. With dwindling supplies and escalating danger, the once-promising pregnancies of countless couples hung in the balance.

Jaafarawi's hope for a successful IVF procedure was dashed as the conflict intensified, culminating in the tragic destruction of the clinic by an Israeli shell. Ghalayini expressed anguish over the senseless loss of life, encapsulating the magnitude of the tragedy in the chilling phrase: "5,000 lives in one shell."

Months later, the site of the once-vibrant clinic lay in ruins, a stark reminder of the devastation wrought by war. Amidst the debris, the shattered remnants of liquid nitrogen tanks stood as silent witnesses to the shattered dreams and lost potential of thousands.

April 18, 2024 2:58 p.m. 9084

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