By James Melley & Michael Buchanan
Two mothers who died of herpes after giving birth could have been infected by a single surgeon, the BBC has found.
The doctor performed Caesareans on both the women in 2018.
The families, who were told there were no connections between the deaths, are calling for inquests to be opened.
The East Kent Hospitals Trust says it could not identify the source of the infection, and the surgeon had no history of the virus.
Maternal deaths are rare. In more than 2.1 million births in the UK between 2017 and 2019 there were 191 deaths of mothers within six weeks of giving birth, according to official figures.
Deaths caused by HSV-1 – one of two strains of the herpes simplex virus – are almost unheard of in healthy people. It is a common infection that can cause sores around the mouth or genitals.
Yet, in May and July 2018, two young mothers died from an infection caused by the virus.
The BBC has been investigating how these two deaths happened and why neither family was told there was a link between them