PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – He was the only survivor of a mold outbreak inside UPMC hospitals.
However, the 70-year-old man died this weekend.
Before his death, he and his family filed a lawsuit against UPMC alleging medical negligence.
Che Duvall initially went to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in August of 2015 to receive a double lung transplant. A month later, he was diagnosed with the infection and received treatment up until Saturday, when he was pronounced dead.
The cause of death the Allegheny County Medical Examiner provided was multi-organ system failure due to sepsis.
The Perryopolis man is the last of four patients to die after reportedly contracting a mold infection at a UPMC hospital.
Duvall and two other transplant patients at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital had all been in a negative pressure room. Those rooms are designed to draw air into the room from the outside for patients who already have a potentially airborne contagious disease.
The other person who died contracted the infection at UPMC Montefiore.
In the Duvall’s lawsuit, their attorney says UPMC recklessly housed Duvall in a room that made him more susceptible to a mold infection.
“You’re dealing with people whose immunological systems are markedly compromised,” said former Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht. “The ability to ward off, to fight infections is markedly diminished. Sometimes close to zero, and the slightest exposure to any kind of a microorganism can lead to an infection.”
“How tragic, how ironic that you waited months and maybe years and you get the organ and you survive the operation and now you can look forward to many more years or relatively normal hepatic or pulmonary function, whatever it may be and now you succumb to a post-operative infection. That is really sad,” Wecht said.
The CDC, which launched an investigation after the outbreak, made several suggestions to the hospital, including to, “not put transplant patients in the negative pressure room unless they have an infection.”
UPMC confirmed Duvall’s death and released a statement saying:
“We extend our deepest sympathies to his family. We want to reassure our patients that we have taken every possible precaution to make our hospitals as safe as humanly possible.”
UPMC suspended its transplant program for six days in September after identifying mold in four of its patients. The hospital promised changes when the fungal problem first surfaced.
“Last I heard, they were addressing the problems with tearing down things, constructing , reconstructing and so on,” said Wecht. “I’m not aware of any recent new infections.”
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