Infant with Heart Condition Dies After Mold Exposure in Seattle Hospital Causes Infection

Claudia Harmata
Infant with Heart Condition Dies After Mold Exposure in Seattle Hospital Causes Infection

A 6-month-old baby died on Wednesday from an Aspergillus mold infection she contracted at Seattle Children’s hospital while undergoing three separate open-heart surgeries.

Elizabeth “Beth” Hutt’s parents, Katie and Micah Hutt, shared a Facebook post on Wednesday morning revealing that their young daughter had succumbed to the infection.

“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,” the family wrote. “We will post when we’ve had the chance to make plans for celebrating our brave, courageous, beautiful warrior. Please understand that we likely won’t be responding to messages or calls while we figure out what ‘life after’ looks like. Much love, the Hutts.”

The infant had been born with a heart condition in August, and was rushed to Seattle Children’s where she underwent a series of three open-heart surgeries — the first when she was just five days old, according to The Seattle Times.

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KOMO News, a CNN affiliate, reported that around the same time as her third surgery, which had been in November, the mold had been detected in the hospital’s operating rooms.

Katie, Beth’s mother, told the outlet that their daughter struggled to recover from her surgeries with the infection.

“I’m always going to wonder if there were different interventions that could’ve taken place, had the Aspergillus not been there,” she said.

According to the Center or Disease Control and Prevention, Aspergillus is a common mold that most people breathe in every day without getting sick. However, people with weakened immune systems or lung disease have a high risk of developing an infection.

In November, the hospital revealed that a total of 14 patients have developed surgical site infections from Aspergillus since 2001, KOMO reported. Beth is the seventh to have died.

The new information came seven months after the hospital found the mold and closed down their 14 operating rooms in May. According to the hospital, the mold is in the air-handling units in their operating rooms.

Seattle Children’s did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

In a statement to KOMO, the hospital said: “Losing a child is incredibly devastating for everyone whose lives were touched by that child. Our deepest condolences go out to families and loved ones who have experienced a loss.”

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Beth’s parents say that the doctors and medical staff are not to blame, but that the hospital’s administration needs to take action and should be held accountable for their failure to remedy the issue.

They joined a class action lawsuit against the hospital in January, which claims hospital managers have known about the mold since 2005 and have not acted to protect its patients. The lawsuit was first filed in December.

Three operating rooms had new HEPA filters installed and have reopened for use as of Feb. 5, KOMO reported. The facility’s 11 other operating rooms remain closed as they await the installation.