In November 2019, Seattle Children’s Hospital issued a press statement that 14 of its patients had been sickened and six had died due to Aspergillus mold on its premises since 2001.
Stritmatter Kessler Koehler Moore and the John Layman Law Firm filed a Class Action Complaint on December 2, 2019, against Seattle Children’s Hospital on behalf of the child patients who became infected by Aspergillus mold after they were hospitalized between the late 1990s through 2019.
The complaint alleges:
- that hospital administrators failed to maintain a safe environment for the patients;
- the doctors and nurses who provided care to the child patients did not know that the hospital premises were unsafe,
- that transmission of Aspergillus was Seattle Children’s Hospital’s fault.
This is the story of child patient L.S. whose case has now been resolved.
The parents of L.S. who married in 1999, were delighted to find out they were expecting in May of 2004.
At 19 weeks into the pregnancy, they had an ultrasound to check on the baby’s progress and were excited to learn they were having a baby boy. In addition to identifying the gender of the baby, the ultrasound also revealed that L.S. had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) – the left side of his heart was not forming as it should. L.S. was to receive heart surgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital shortly after his birth.
L.S. was born via cesarean section on February 5, 2005, in Tacoma, Washington. He was a husky little guy at 8 pounds 3 oz and chubby cheeks. Other than his heart defect, L.S. was otherwise a healthy baby. Two days after his birth, L.S. was transferred to Seattle Children’s Hospital for surgery to repair the left side of his heart.
On February 10, 2005, L.S. underwent heart surgery and recovered in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit without complications. On February 23, 2005, L.S. was discharged from the hospital and his parents were able to take their baby home.
Later during his scheduled Occupational Therapy appointment on March 1st, L.S. was breathing ‘roughly.’ He was pale in color and taken to the emergency room for immediate evaluation.
Over the next 48 hours, the doctors tried to pinpoint what was causing L.S.’s increased pulmonary and cardiac symptoms. On March 5th, L.S. was taken back into surgery. Over the following days, L.S.’s lung volumes decreased. He became puffy. The culture taken at the time of the surgery now revealed the presence of Aspergillus galactomannan.
L.S. received anti-fungal medication and was intubated in the pediatric intensive care unit– his parents were at his side constantly. By March 13th, L.S.’s pulmonary function had deteriorated further. On March 19th, an ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine was inserted through L.S.’s right internal jugular vein due to his persistently low oxygenation levels. In addition to the plethora of critical conditions L.S. was battling due to the fungal infection, he soon developed blood clots near his heart stent. The next day, doctors decided to switch out L.S.’s ECMO machine to help increase his pulmonary saturations. L.S.’s abdomen was noted as distended and more tense than it had been previously. A chest Xray revealed he had also developed right upper lobe atelectasis and a possible prior alveolar hemorrhage. L.S.’s condition was increasingly dire, and his organs began to shut down. Ascites were visible throughout his abdomen on ultrasound. His condition was critical – surgeons discussed possible exploratory surgery but told his parents that in L.S.’s condition – he would likely not survive.
His parents knew they were facing the most painful decision a parent could ever make – they decided to forego additional surgery for L.S.
At 3:24 a.m. on March 28, 2005, 7-week-old L.S. peacefully passed away in his parents’ arms. An autopsy was performed later that day and revealed the destruction Aspergillus had inflicted on L.S.’s tiny body.
L.S.’s mother has since battled depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance. She sought counseling. L.S.’s father struggled with his own grief and retreated within. Time passed and they had two more sons but L.S. is always in their thoughts.