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Kentucky Children’s Hospital Halts Heart Surgeries After Infant Deaths

Infant heart surgery at Kentucky Children’s Hospital has been suspended following the death of two infants and botched heart surgeries that led to severe injuries for at least two others.  

According to a special report conducted by CNN, the University of Kentucky-based hospital placed its chief heart surgeon on leave late last year, and suspended all heart surgeries involving children after the incidents, leaving some parents worried over whether their children received the proper care at the facility.

Almost a year ago, 6 month-old Connor Wilson died after heart surgery for hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Then in mid-September, Waylon Rainey also underwent surgery and suffered heart failure. Less than two weeks later, something went wrong with newborn Jaxon Russell’s heart surgery. Then, on October 16, Rayshawn Lewis-Smith, 6 months old, died after heart surgery. That same month, the chief heart surgeon, Mark Plunkett, went on paid leave.

The parents of three-month-old Waylon have indicated that their child may have only survived because a cardiologist warned them to move him to another facility, without telling them why. The boy went to University of Michigan.

Connor Wilson was not as lucky, and his parents say they asked numerous times for survival rates, which many hospitals proudly state on their websites. Kentucky Children’s Hospital reportedly refused to provide survival rates, and went to court to block that data from being released when sought by the media and the state attorney general’s office. The hospital claims it is a matter of patient privacy.

Parents of children who were injured or who died at Kentucky Children’s Hospital have been seeking answers and reports suggest that they have not been getting them. When a local reporter tried to get the information released under the Open Records Act, which was supported by a decision for the Kentucky Attorney General’s office, the hospital filed a lawsuit against the reporter in April. The hospital has indicated that it sued the reporter to get the attorney general’s decision overturned, but that it was not allowed to sue the attorney general’s office.

On Saturday, hospital officials indicated that they are conducting an ongoing internal review of its infant heart program. A spokesman said that the hospital recognized that its pediatric heart program needed to improve and stopped surgery while the program underwent review.

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