Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
Widow wants answers about infection after husband's death following double transplant.
A widow whose husband contracted an infection following a ‘world-first’ heart-lung transplant said she wants answers from the hospital that cared for him.
Aaron Green, of Arundel, West Sussex, had the pioneering surgery at Royal Papworth Hospital, Cambridge in 2019.
It was a success, but an infection may have led to his body rejecting the organs and he died in July 2021.
Mr Green, who was 26 when he died, was the first person to have a heart and lung transplant from a donor whose heart had stopped beating, which the hospital said was a major breakthrough.
After his recovery, he was back playing cricket and riding his bike, and his widow Julie said things were "really positive."
The couple married in September 2020, but he then became ill, having contracted the bacterial infection mycobacterium chelonae.
Mrs Green said: "Every time we thought we had beaten the infection, it came back. He just got more and more ill and lost so much weight. He reverted back to being in a wheelchair and on oxygen, and eventually we were told he would have two to four months to live."
She and her husband suspected his decline could be linked to an outbreak of another bacteria at Royal Papworth, thought to have been contracted by patients through the hospital's water supply.
The bacterium, mycobacterium abscessus, was contracted by 32 other hospital patients and led to a serious incident report at the trust.
A joint inquest is to be held to consider whether it contributed to the deaths of two patients.
Mrs Green added: "We think mycobacterium chelonae came from the water supply at the hospital. A few other patients that came in at the same time had caught similar bacteria and we received a letter one day, when we were in clinic, saying 'don't drink the water here'.
"He had been drinking the water and had been showered in the water. He had washed his nebulizer, which is like a medicine machine, in that water, and all of a sudden they were saying people were picking stuff up."
She has instructed lawyers to help establish what happened to her husband and five other patients who also became ill following surgery.
Mrs Green added: "Hopefully the investigation will find out for sure if the two are connected. I have a strong inkling that the two would be; it's too suspicious and Aaron really wanted to know the answers and he deserves that the answers should come to light."
A spokesperson for Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Trust said: "Our thoughts are with Aaron's family at this difficult time. There has never been a recorded outbreak of mycobacterium chelonae at Royal Papworth Hospital and we are fully supporting the coroner's inquiries.
"In 2019, we did identify cases of mycobacterium abscessus, a different organism, and, as part of our extensive investigations, we have put multiple measures in place to maintain safety, including treatment of the water supply and installing specialist filters on taps and showers."