An adored general practitioner and skin cancer specialist from Mango Hill has been revealed as the first victim of a deadly cluster of infections at a Brisbane hospital.
Muhammad Hussain, 55, underwent a heart transplant at the Prince Charles Hospital in May and became ill soon after. Four months later, on September 20, he died.
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Muhammad died from complications after contracting a fungal infection, one of five people in a cluster of infections at the hospital.
Muhammed and a second man, Adam Remock, have both died as a result.
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The cluster was discovered in late October, and Muhammad’s family found out only hours before the news was aired by 7NEWS.
“It’s all been very shocking,” his daughter Muskaan Hussain said.
The communication from the hospital “was lacking quite a bit”, she said, “I felt they weren’t as upfront as I would expect them to be.”
Muhammad Hussain and Adam Remock both died after undergoing heart transplants at the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane. Credit: 7NEWS
On Tuesday, Queensland Health Minister Shannon Fentiman was grilled by the opposition about the incident.
Opposition leader David Crisafulli questioned why patients heard about the cluster through the news.
“It’s absolutely not acceptable that patients found out via the news,” Fentiman said.
“The head of the hospital assured me he had spoken directly to every patient, and if that has not happened … I sincerely apologise.
“It’s not good enough.”
Muskaan was present for the discussion, and said she has “a lot of unanswered questions”.
“I would like clearer answers on when she was made aware of the infection,” she said.
“Why weren’t patients told immediately? Why weren’t the families notified earlier?
“I have a lot of specific questions about the (infection control) procedures in place at the hospital.
“What safeguards do they have in place to prevent something like this happening? The fact that a cluster developed and eventually five people fell ill — why was this not picked up sooner by the hospital?
“In general, I just want a little bit more clarity.”
Muskaan Hussain says she still has unanswered questions about her father’s death. Credit: 7NEWS
Watching another cluster victim’s wife speak on the news on Monday night was “deeply painful”, Muskaan said.
Adam Remock died on Friday, eight weeks after his transplant.
His wife Kelly said the family were never told the infection was potentially fatal.
“I could feel her pain because my family went through the exact same experience,” Muskaan said.
“My heart goes out to Kelly and her family. To see that Adam was so young at 45 years old really really hit home for me.
“I resonated with so much of what she shared.”
Muskaan Hussain (bottom right) says life will never be the same without her father Muhammad Hussain (left). Credit: 7NEWS
Muhammad practised medicine for 22 years in Australia.
“He was very passionate about being a GP, being a skin cancer specialist,” Muskaan said.
“He truly cared for his patients and he genuinely loved what he did.”
“Life will never be the same” without him, Muskaan said.
“It’s changed forever. We feel his loss so deeply every single day. Everything we do, we really need him in our lives.
“This has affected five families very deeply, they were real people.
“My father was a very well-loved GP, loved by hundreds of his patients.
“He chose to get this procedure done, knowing the risks, but he never thought that he would get so sick.
“He thought he would be back at work doing what he loved, he couldn’t wait to get back to his patients.
“And he never got the opportunity to do so.”
Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said how the cluster started may never be known, given the complexity of the issue. Credit: 7NEWS
High fungal readings were discovered in the donor retrieval equipment storage area at the hospital, with transplants put on hold while the equipment was cleaned or replaced.
Air sampling at the hospital has come back negative for fungi.
Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said how the cluster started may never be known, given the complexity of the issue.
He revealed the first four of the cluster patients contracted infections from Aspergillus but from two different species.
Remock was infected by Lomentospora, Gerrard said.
“We’ve got at least three different fungi involved,” Gerrard said.
“Patients undergoing heart transplants are very immunosuppressed and subject to infections, including infections with common fungi.
He said the fungi involved in the cluster are not rare and are “seen in heart transplant units”, but the rate of infections is higher than expected.
As a result, an investigation is underway.
“Obviously, we are concerned,” Gerrard said. “That’s why this investigation is being undertaken. I’m not trivialising this.”
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