Maggots ate our mum alive in hospital

2013-09-01 10:00

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Lestrina Modiba (73) was left to literally rot in bed after a routine checkup

Lestrina Modiba used to wake up early every morning and limp around her yard with crutches under her arms.

The 73-year-old from Ga-Matlala village outside Polokwane in Limpopo was following doctor’s orders, trying to keep fit.

But her doctors failed her when a routine checkup at Polokwane Hospital resulted in her painful, tragic death.

Modiba went to hospital on April 22 for a checkup and was admitted after tests showed that fluid had accumulated in her lungs.

She had congestive heart failure – a chronic condition – and doctors wanted her to spend a few days in hospital while the fluid was cleared.

Instead, she spent two months in a hospital bed, half-sitting and half-lying down, an oxygen mask over her nose and mouth at all times.

She also developed horrific pressure sores on her buttocks and around her sacrum.

In the days before her death on June 23, her horrified children discovered that maggots were in essence eating their mother alive.

Jermina Modiba was the first to realise what was happening to Lestrina.

She and her two sisters went to the hospital to find out how the oxygen cylinder, which Modiba was to take home with her, worked.

Their mother was due to be discharged on May 31.

While her sisters were meeting with the doctors, Jermina went to see her mother, who had by then been moved from the general to a single ward.

A terrible stench greeted her.

At first, Jermina worried that her mother had soiled herself, but when she went to look, she made a gruesome discovery.

“My mother’s back looked and smelled like rotten meat. There was a greenish slough (scabs) on her back and I could see maggots feasting on septic sores around her buttocks.”

She immediately informed the doctors, who went to examine Lestrina and then said they would call in a wound-cleaning company.

The family lodged a complaint with the office of the Limpopo Health MEC on June 14.

Department spokesperson Adel Van der Linde confirmed on Thursday that the complaint was received by the MEC’s office.

She said: “A task team was appointed to investigate the matter, and a report with findings and recommendations is being finalised.”

Nine days after the complaint was lodged Lestrina died.

It was her horrific bedsores rather than her heart condition that killed her.

A pathologist’s report, which City Press has seen, reveals that she died because of septicemia, which was caused by pressure sores on the buttocks and sacral area.

Her family photographed Lestrina’s body in the mortuary. The pictures show that the bones and muscles in her sacral area were exposed, while the lower part of her back was covered in scabs and dead tissue.

Bedsores are a sign of neglect. They develop when a bedridden patient is not regularly turned.

Lestrina’s family told City Press the slow pace of the investigation was frustrating them.

Another of her daughters, Rebecca, told City Press: “I don’t understand why it is taking so long for the MEC’s office to investigate because the evidence is there and the hospital management admitted that my mother was neglected and they apologised to us.

“My mother was a strong and proud woman, but she died a tragic death at the hands of the people who were supposed to care for her. We are not going to let it go like that. Heads must roll.”

Van der Linde assured the family that they will have answers next week when the report is released.

The family has hired a lawyer and is preparing a civil claim.

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