Thousands of sperm samples, including some being stored by men who feared they could become impotent, were destroyed when temperatures mistakenly rose in a storage tank, according to a newspaper report.

Dr. R. Stan Williams, chief of the University of Florida medical school's division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility told The Gainesville Sun that up to 60 of the frozen samples were from men who banked their sperm in case they no longer could have children.

The vast majority of the samples at the UF Women's Health Center at Magnolia Parke were from anonymous donors for use by couples with fertility problems.

"Our anonymous donor sperm bank is essentially wiped out," Williams told the Sun.

University health science center spokesman Tom Fortner said the mechanical failure dated to last October, when a faulty sensor on a nitrogen-filled tank apparently failed to alert workers that the temperature had risen to a level that jeopardized the sperm's viability.