Woman Eaten Alive by Fungus Following Heart Transplant

'Mom, I think I'm dying'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2016 5:00 PM CDT
Woman Eaten Alive by Fungus Following Heart Transplant
Craig Amick stands at the gravesite of his daughter, Shelby Slagle, who died in 2015 of a fungal infection at UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh.   (Andrew Russell/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via AP)

(Newser) – “To sit there and watch your child be eaten to death by infection was..." Craig Amick tells the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unable to finish the sentence. The Tribune-Review has the heartbreaking story of Amick's daughter, Shelby Slagle, who died from a mold infection weeks after receiving a heart transplant. Slagle was born with a hole in the wall of her heart. By 25, she needed a pacemaker, but her heart was still failing. In May 2015, at the age of 27, she got the news she'd been waiting years to hear: UPMC hospital in Pittsburgh had a heart for her. Slagle's surgery went well, and Amick says his daughter's new heart "was beating strong." Slagle was dead less than two months later.

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Amick says it was "a pretty fast down slide." "Nobody knew what was going on." It started with an infected bed sore. Slagle had daily surgery to remove infected tissue, eventually losing most of her buttocks. Doctors said rhizopus, a type of mold, was consuming Slagle's body. She lost the ability to talk or breathe unassisted; she had hallucinations; and it became clear she wasn't going to make it. "Mom, I think I'm dying," Slagle managed to text one day. She died a week later. She wasn't alone. Two other transplant patients kept in the same hospital room as Slagle also died from a fungal infection. Slagle's husband settled a lawsuit over the case for $1.35 million in August. “To be honest, it could have been $52 trillion, it doesn't bring Shelby back,” her mother, Laurie Amick, says. Read the full story here. (Read more infection stories.)

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