The damaged generation: ‘Keep quiet because you chose to be pregnant’

2013-09-01 06:00

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Nomaphelo Finini (32)

Child’s name: Elihle Finini (8)

Born at: Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Joburg

Cause of cerebral palsy: Birth asphyxia

Case: Sued the state last year. Matter has been referred to the state attorney

As Nomaphelo Finini’s contractions worsened, her partner rushed her to the Hillbrow Clinic.

After she arrived at around 8pm, a nurse examined her and told her that her cervix had not dilated enough, and that she was in the early stages of labour.

As it was already late, she was admitted to the busy facility.

The contractions intensified during the night and she cried out for help, much to the annoyance of the nursing staff who insulted her, telling her they were not there when she decided to have a child.

“A nurse examined me again and said the baby was not going to come out any time soon. So I must just keep quiet because I chose to be pregnant and let them do their jobs in peace,” she said.

A terrified Finini tossed and turned all night, alone in the labour ward. The pain was unbearable but she endured it for fear of being reprimanded again.

At around 2pm the next afternoon, she was checked by another nurse who discovered that the baby’s heart rate had slowed down and he was in foetal distress.

Finini was then taken by ambulance to Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, where, in the labour ward, doctors had to use forceps to help her deliver.

When Elihle emerged, he didn’t cry. Doctors took him to another room where Finini said she heard him cry faintly and slowly after a few minutes. She later learnt that he had suffered several seizures.

“The next day, I was discharged and the baby who I had carried for nine months and was yearning to hold, stayed behind,” she said.

“I was told he needed further medical care because he suffocated due to prolonged labour and his brain was damaged.”

Elihle spent about two weeks in hospital. At six months, he was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy, unable to hold his head up. He remains unable to sit, walk, talk, or feed himself.

Finini, who lives in a back yard shack in Alexandra, had to leave her job as a cook at Pick n Pay because everyone she hired to look after him would quit within a week.

His father, who died three years ago, did not provide for the family.

“He had difficulty accepting that his son was disabled, I guess,” she said.

Determined to provide for her children, Finini is now training to become a firefighter. Her son lives with her sister.

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