Family wants Madiba to go home now

2013-09-01 10:45

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Former president Nelson Mandela was supposed to return to his Houghton home in the early hours of yesterday morning, but his medical team decided at the last moment it was too risky.

City Press has established that doctors at Pretoria’s Mediclinic Heart Hospital believed they had done everything they could for the ailing former statesman.

He has received the best possible treatment but, sources say, it is now time for Mandela to be moved home to see out his final days – though it is not clear how long that might be.

Temperatures in Joburg plummeted to 1°C around midnight.

An unnamed Mandela family source told a BBC reporter yesterday that the 95-year-old had been discharged from hospital and was already at his home, which has been turned into a virtual hospital ward equipped for round-the-clock high care.

The report, based on the single source, was picked up by other international media houses.

But the report prompted a correction from the presidency, which said in a statement that Mandela remained in hospital in a “critical but stable” condition.

“At times his condition becomes unstable, but he responds to medical interventions,” the presidency said in its statement.

The BBC, Sky News and others were forced to retract their initial reports.

Today marks Mandela’s 86th day in the Pretoria hospital after he was rushed there on June 8.

En route, his ambulance broke down and was stranded on the freeway for more than 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, a family source has suggested that Mandela’s medical team was ready to discharge him from hospital on Wednesday, but the family asked that he spend at least two more days under observation.

The source said the family’s hesitation was sparked by Mandela’s ever-changing condition.

“The family said (he should spend two more days under observation) because his condition would improve for a few days and deteriorate afterwards.”

But on Friday, when the two days were up, the family was told Mandela could not be discharged because he was “not transportable”.

Mandela’s health has been on a roller coaster since his admission. Presidency statements have had him “critical”, “critical but stable”, and in recent weeks “responding to treatment” and “showing signs of improvement”.

Last week, the presidency issued a statement that signified a total shift in gear: “While at times his condition becomes unstable, the doctors indicate that the former president has demonstrated great resilience and his condition tends to stabilise as a result of medical interventions.”

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said that doctors were working hard to effect a turnaround in Mandela’s health and were doing everything they could to keep him comfortable.

The family has hoped throughout his hospitalisation that Mandela will be stabilised enough to at least be brought back to his Houghton home.

Discussions between some members of the family and Mandela’s medical team have been ongoing – and it was against this backdrop that a top-secret plan to transport him back to Houghton some time after 2am yesterday was hatched.

But just before the planned move, his condition was deemed not stable enough for the approximately 45-minute journey.

Maharaj said he would not respond to “rumours and speculation”, and referred City Press to the statement issued yesterday morning.

A government source said doctors assessed Mandela’s health daily to see if he was ready to return home.

“Mac (Maharaj), the doctors and us talk all the time. There is no way Madiba can be discharged without us knowing,” said the source.

It is not clear whether the presidency was involved in or aware of the abortive early morning move.

– Additional reporting by Ngwako Malatji and Sabelo Ndlangisa

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