Baby dies after infection from mold in hospital operating room

U.S. & World

SEATTLE (KCPQ) — A baby born with a serious heart defect who contracted Aspergillus mold from a Seattle Children’s operating room has died.

Beth Hutt died at Seattle Children’s “on her 175th day of life.”

“Late last night, Beth told us she was ready. I cannot begin to express the gratitude we have for the team that worked through the night to make sure Beth’s transition was as painless and smooth as possible,” her family said in a statement on Facebook.

Beth suffered from HLHS, a complex and severe congenital heart defect. It’s unclear whether her death was directly related to the Aspergillus mold from Seattle Children’s.

“Losing a child is incredibly devastating for everyone whose lives were touched by that child,” a spokesperson for Seattle Children’s said in a statement. “Our deepest condolences go out to families and loved ones who have experienced a loss. Out of respect for privacy of our patients and their families, Seattle Children’s will not be sharing additional information.”

Beth’s parents joined a class-action lawsuit against the hospital after learning that their baby contracted the mold during open-heart surgeries that were done at the hospital in August and November 2019.

She’s one of six patients being represented by attorney Karen Koehler, who says all of her clients contracted Aspergillus from Seattle Children’s operating rooms. Five of those six patients have died.

The hospital closed all of its main operating rooms on Nov. 10 after the discovery of Aspergillus in three of its 14 operating rooms and two procedural areas.

Aspergillus is a common mold often present in the air we breathe, but it can cause complications for people with compromised immune systems and surgical patients, as it did in May 2019 when the hospital revealed that one child died and five others were infected by the same mold.

On Nov. 14, Seattle Children’s said it would keep 10 operating rooms and two storage rooms closed until the end of January to install new filtration systems amid ongoing mold problems.

Four days later, the hospital’s CEO apologized and revealed that the mold problems dated back to 2001. Dr. Jeff Sperring said between 2001 and 2014, seven patients developed Aspergillus infections. Five of them died, Sperring said.

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