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What is Mycobacterium Chimaera?

Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman represents multiple clients in cases against the Kansas University Hospital Authority involving infections that were acquired during open-heart surgeries. Kansas University Hospital Authority is the governing body for The University of Kansas Hospital. These infections are associated with heater-cooler systems used during open-heart surgeries. One such machine is the LivaNova/Stockert/ Sorin 3T Heater-Cooler Device. The manufacturer, LivaNova, has also been named in our clients’ lawsuits.

During open-heart surgeries, a bacteria called Mycobacterium chimaera (M. chimaera) becomes aerosolized from the heater-cooler system used during surgery. M. chimaera bacteria can find its way into the open-chest wound. Symptoms from the infection can start a few weeks after surgery, but some patients may not start having symptoms for years after surgery.

Symptoms can be non-specific, such as:

  • night sweats
  • muscle aches
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • unexplained fever

In some cases, the sternal incision from the open-heart surgery shows signs of the infection with redness, pain, swelling, muscle soreness, drainage, blisters, or areas that are open and will not heal. Other clinical manifestations include hepatitis, impaired kidney function, enlarged spleen, osteomyelitis (bone infection) and low white count, low platelets, and/or anemia.

Since 2012, M. chimaera infections have been seen all over the world, most of these infections have been associated with heater-cooler systems used during open-heart surgery. If you have had open-heart surgery since 2012, you may have been exposed to M. chimaera.

If you are concerned about your or your loved one’s potential exposure during open-heart surgery, call us at 816-474-0004 to speak with an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in handling your potential case.

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