Caesarean-triggered hell

2011-11-12 17:03

A young mother whose life was ­ruined  by a botched operation is pleading with Health Minister ­Aaron Motsoaledi to help her get justice.

Zama Ngcongo (30) is also suing the health department for ­­R13 ­million in damages.

Ngcongo wrote to Aaron Motsoaledi this week, ­asking him to intervene in her lengthy case.

In the letter, she states: “I’ve tried everything to get justice, but nobody seems to care that I might never have another baby or live a normal life again. Minister, you’re my last hope.”

Ngcongo had a Caesarean at King Edward VIII Hospital in ­Durban in February 2009. A few weeks after the operation, she started experiencing terrible ­abdominal pains.

When she went back to the ­hospital, doctors allegedly told her the pain would go away after some time as it was to be expected after a ­Caesarean. But it didn’t.

Two weeks later Ngcongo got the shock of her life when she ­discovered that she was passing stools through her vagina. She went back to the same hospital, and doctors allegedly told her X-rays showed that the operating team had left a swab inside her stomach.

But that was not all. Her bowel had been accidentally cut during the operation, resulting in an opening between the rectum and vaginal wall.

Ngcongo, of KwaNdengezi near Durban, underwent several reconstruction procedures – but all failed. She ended up attaching a ­colostomy bag.

“I don’t know what else to do now. I’m constantly in pain and can’t go to public events or take a taxi,” Ngcongo said.

“Two weeks ago I took a taxi to town and minutes later people started saying, ‘What is that terrible smell?’. Tears just rolled from my eyes.

“I wasn’t crying because I was humiliated but because I was angry that I was going to live like this for the rest of my life, while the person who did this (the surgeon) is enjoying her life.”

When City Press contacted Motsoaledi, the minister said: “At face value it looks like this is a case of incompetence on the doctor’s side or professional negligence.”

Ngcongo lodged a complaint in March this year with the Health Professions Council of South Africa against the doctor who operated on her. The council said this week it was still investigating.

Ngcongo said she felt the council was taking too long to finalise her case, which is why she has asked Motsoaledi to intervene.

Motsoaledi said it was difficult to tell the council what to do because it’s an independent body, but that he would plead with the statutory body to fast-track Ngcongo’s case.

“I know that (the council) has a backlog and I have several times warned them about not clearing it,” he said.

Ngcongo said she felt let down by the KwaZulu-Natal health department. In February an investigator visited her, but to date she has ­received no feedback.

City Press has reliably learnt that a report on her case was finalised to be used in a disciplinary hearing. The file was with the head of department’s office.

Health department spokesperson Chris Maxon said: “It was ­unfortunate that Ngcongo felt let down by the department, but we’re doing all we can to help her.

“We’ve ­referred Ngcongo’s matter to the (council). Her lawyers have also served the department with summons and that matter is being handled by our legal team.”

The identity of the doctor is known to City Press, but is not yet published due to the ongoing investigations.

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