SEATTLE - At 20 weeks pregnant, Micah and Katie Hutt received news that no parent ever wants to hear, their baby had a heart defect.
“It was a no brainer to take her to (Seattle) Children's,” Katie said.
Right after birth, and instead of going home, their baby girl Beth went to Seattle Children's and received her first surgery in August 2019 and then again in November.
“We love the surgeon, we love the support staff, we love the nurses,” Micah said.
Yet on Wednesday, they were sitting in Karen Koehler's law office planning to take legal action against Seattle Children's. They say their baby girl was infected with Aspergillus mold during surgery. They are blaming the administration and building operators at the hospital saying they failed to wipe away a mold problem they were aware of.
The Lacey couple was aware of the mold problems at Seattle Children’s before their baby's surgery.
The hospital shut down their operating rooms to handle the issue a couple of times last year and the couple says they trusted that the prestigious institution had taken care of the air handling units causing the Aspergillus infections.
“I had a lot of mom guilt on the timing of the surgeries, 'Did I do the proper research?' They assured me it was out of my control,” Katie said.
“She's lived there her entire life, she had open-heart surgery and she has Aspergillus in her heart,” Attorney Karen Koehler said.
Koehler says the baby was immediately transported to Seattle Children’s after birth and stayed at the hospital with the exception of three days when she was at the Ronald McDonald house with her parents.
The family says they found out their baby had Aspergillus a couple of days after her November 7 surgery.
Baby Beth is now five months old and is still at Seattle Children's. Her mom says it's unclear how Aspergillus is impacting her baby's preexisting heart condition.
“It certainly has changed her trajectory for treatment. She's definitely a lot sicker than when she went into surgery,” Katie said.
In the complaints filed so far, Koehler has named five other children whom she says contracted Aspergillus at Seattle Children’s during their surgeries. Four of those five children died.
“It’s the betrayal of the highest order to have that garbage going on in such a revered place,” Koehler said.
The CEO of Seattle Children’s have since apologized to everyone, and back in November, he made no excuses for the hospital’s failure to link the cases sooner.
Since 2001, the hospital says 14 people have been sickened by Aspergillus with six young people dying.
The hospital says they thought the cases were isolated and only discovered recently that the air handling units were the reason for the infections.
But Koehler says the administration is “covering up” the details. She points to a lawsuit filed by the Patnode family in 2005. She says there was a mountain of information linking the air handling units to their child’s infection. That lawsuit was quietly settled in 2008, and Koehler says the hospital failed to follow up with the mold issue.
On Wednesday Seattle Children’s sent Q13 News this response.
“We are working diligently to resolve these issues, including the claims that have been brought against Seattle Children’s related to past surgical site infections. We are incredibly sorry for the impact this situation has had on our patients and families.”