Haunted by the death of their child

2013-07-04 00:00

A HAYFIELDS couple who reported a local gynaecologist to the Health Profession Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for alleged “negligence” say they have not recovered from the loss of their baby girl in May last year.

A year has come and gone, but Deon Wilmot (36) and his fiancée Melanie Fourie (26) said their baby’s death still haunts them.

The couple are still hoping that the HPCSA will investigate their case.

Wilmot has since lost his job as a car salesman because of under-performance due to depression.

Relaying the story in their modest home, the couple said they were excited to learn that they were expecting a baby in August 2011.

But their joy was shortlived when, at 38 weeks, Fourie gave birth to a stillborn baby in May last year.

This, after the doctor gave them the impression that the baby was healthy during the first trimester.

At 36 weeks, the doctor apparently informed the pair that the baby was not growing fast enough.

The baby is believed to have weighed just 2,6 kg at that point and the doctor declined to put Fourie through an induced labour, because she wanted the baby to pick up about 200 grams first.

At 38 weeks, the couple went for their appointment, five days before Fourie was booked in for induced ­labour.

But the doctor said “there was no heartbeat”, and that the baby had died.

Fourie said the stillborn baby was 1,76 kg when she delivered her.

Fourie accused the doctor of ­being unprofessional and said she did not even conduct a Dilation and Curettage (DNC) after the birth.

The couple said the doctor knew at 32 weeks about the complications but did nothing to help the situation, and instead delayed their appointment for induced labour. They believe their daughter’s death could have been prevented.

Six weeks after the incident, the couple said they met the doctor to discuss a medical bill.

“When I asked about this charge of R3 600, the doctor said, ‘Don’t worry about it. I’ll pay it out of my pocket.’ In my eyes I saw it as an admission of guilt,” Wilmot said.

“The doctor admitted that there was a problem with the baby before.”

He said he was told that the doctor based the judgment on gut feeling because that’s how doctors worked sometimes. The doctor apologised to Fourie for what happened, he said.

The family has downgraded their lifestyle, after Wilmot lost his job due to depression.

“[The doctor] messed up our lives.”

Since then, the couple have had a son, Tariq (two months), and are also focusing their energy on raising their four-year-old daughter from Fourie’s previous relationship.

“God has blessed us with Tariq. I’m not saying he’s a replacement. I’m a strong person and I’m dealing with it. We still need to go do her ashes, which is going to be hard,” said Fourie.

Wilmot said he sent about 50 e-mails to the HPCSA, but it has been dragging its feet.

The council’s spokesperson, Sipho Mbele, said they were still awaiting more documents before they can obtain the hospital records and continue their investigation. The matter will then be heard before a preliminary committee of inquiry to determine if there are grounds for a further investigation, said Mbele.

The doctor’s attorney, Altus Janse van Rensburg, said his client has submitted an explanation to HPCSA and cannot disclose any information without the patient’s consent. Van Rensburg said it was premature to comment on this matter.

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