A mother of a newborn baby has told of the horror she experienced when her daughter was admitted for diarrhoea at a Mpumalanga hospital but ended up with her hand getting amputated.
Mbali Sweleni, 20, said she was terrified when she found a bloodied bandage on the floor next to an incubator that baby Lwandle had been placed in on March 30, just a few hours after she was admitted at Bernice Samuel Hospital in Delmas.
“She was fine and bubbly… Late at night, I went to her so that I could breastfeed her and I found the bandages with blood on them on the floor. She had a deep open wound on her right wrist and when I asked the nurses about it, they said she had pulled out a drip [that they had administered],” said Sweleni.
Baby Lwandle was born on March 9. “I suspect that they gave her a wrong drip and as soon as they realised they were in trouble, they ripped it off and tried to cover up their negligence,” said the mother.
Sweleni said after realising that her baby was injured, nurses bandaged the wound and she then went to sleep and was hoping that Lwandle would be fine.
“In the morning on 31 March when I returned to check Lwandle, the wound had gone septic. It had changed to a greenish-blackish colour and was developing watery blisters around the wrist area,” she said.
Sweleni said when the staff realised that the baby was experiencing health complications, she was transferred to the Witbank Hospital around 11pm.
“We were just told that we are being transferred to Witbank Hospital because the child’s condition was getting worse. Doctors [at the Witbank Hospital] told me that the child had a fatal infection in the arm and that they had to remove part of her arm to save her life. I don’t know what infection this is or how she got it. I signed hospital documents and she was amputated just like that,” a distraught Sweleni said.
Sweleni said she wanted answers regarding the incident, especially because none of the staff on duty at Bernice Samuel Hospital has come forth with an explanation on what happened.
“I’m torn. I’m broken and very emotional with so many unanswered questions, but all I want to do now is to be strong for my baby and fight with all the strength I have,” said the sobbing mother.
“It does not add up. No one has told me anything solid about what happened. Now how will I look at my child and explain to her what happened to her arm. She is now disabled and in pain.”
Baby Lwandle’s father Thembinkosi Mndlovo said he felt defeated as he could not afford medical aid and take Lwandle to a private hospital to get better health services.
“I don’t have a good job but this situation made me feel like if my baby was taken to a private hospital, she could have been rescued. It’s very painful to watch her suffer like this because we depend on government hospital services and trusted them with her life.”
Sweleni said premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane and health MEC Sasekani Manzini visited her and she was asked to relate the story to them, which she did.
She said she was told that staff responsible would be suspended with immediate effect, but was not told when this would happen.
She said they then told her that they would give her feedback yesterday, but by 4pm no one had spoken to her.
Mtshweni-Tsipane said in a statement on Sunday: “While the investigation begins, the medical staff involved should be suspended with immediate effect and we should get a preliminary report by next week. We need only the truth as to what happened, but we also need to make sure we support the family and offer counselling to the young mother and the rest of the family.”
Health department director in the Ekangala district Solomon Malatjie said he had been assigned to oversee the investigations and to follow up with the family.
“We, as a department, have already tasked a team of medical professionals to investigate the incident, to establish what happened to the child, who was liable and who is to be suspended and held accountable from the medical staff that was handling baby Lwandle during her admission,” said Malatjie.-Sowetan