Bittersweet court victory for traumatised mother

2012-06-09 18:01

Eight years ago, Fuki Skhosana was rushed to hospital after going into labour with her second child.

There was an expectant, anxious atmosphere in the shack she shared with her partner.

Two hours later, the ambulance had not arrived, so her partner asked a friend to drive Skhosana to hospital.

It was 8.30pm when Skhosana, now 35, was admitted to the maternity ward at the Far East Rand Hospital in Ekurhuleni.

It took another hour for an obstetrician to arrive.

Remembering that night, Skhosana told City Press: “The doctor seemed angry and frustrated as she walked into the labour ward.

“She shouted at the nurses and I immediately knew that it was going to be very a long night.

“She assessed me and said I was fully dilated. She told me to start pushing and I did, but the baby was not willing to come out.

“After several attempts, she became angry and told me that I was not pushing enough. She then asked the nurses to bring forceps.”

Forceps are not as commonly used as they once were – there is a considerable risk of injury to both the unborn baby and its mother.

Skhosana said: “The doctor was very rough with the forceps.

“She kept shoving the forceps in and out even when I screamed in pain,” she said.

“When the forceps delivery failed, she asked the nurses to bring the vacuum extractor and sucked the baby out.”

During the traumatic birthing process, little Ntokozo – whose name means “joy” – suffered brain damage and his mother sustained internal injuries.

Ntokozo is now eight years old. His left arm is paralysed, he cannot see properly out of his left eye, he struggles to speak and he is slow to understand basic concepts.

This week marked the end of a lengthy battle for Skhosana and her family. After a court case that started in 2009, the Gauteng department of health has been ordered to pay R11.6?million in damages.

The money was paid into the account of Skhosana’s lawyer on Monday.

Hers is one of four cases against the department to be settled in the past three years.

The Gauteng department of health has been slapped with 480 medical malpractice lawsuits in the past three years.

About 20% of these civil claims are due to be heard in court this year.

Speaking about Skhosana’s case, departmental spokesperson Simon Zwane said seven more doctors had been appointed at the Far East Rand Hospital to “reduce incidents that resulted in Ntokozo’s injury”.

“The hospital is also required to hold regular meetings to determine how many children were born, find out if there were injuries or deaths, establish the causes of injuries or deaths and put in place preventative measures,” he said.

Skhosana, meanwhile, is delighted by the money she has finally received to help care for her son. It has been a long, hard road. Her partner, Ntokozo’s father, died in 2006. Her other son is 14.

“I want to buy a big and beautiful house for my boys. They have been living in poverty since they were born and this is a gift from God that will change their lives forever,” she said.

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