The damaged generation: 'I had so many dreams for her'

2013-09-01 14:00

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Paulina Malobola sensed something was wrong when she was suddenly transferred from Pholosong Hospital on Gauteng’s East Rand to Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Joburg.

She had spent more than two weeks being monitored at Pholosong because her blood pressure was high.

During her journey in the ambulance, she worried that perhaps the baby she had been carrying for more than eight months was dead. But the paramedics assured her that her baby was fine, even though there were signs she was in distress.

On arrival at Charlotte Maxeke, she was examined by an obstetrician before being wheeled into theatre for a Caesarean section.

“The doctor was not impressed that I had been transferred,” she said. “He kept on saying people from Pholosong never learn. He asked why they always send people when it’s too late. At that time, I was praying because I knew that meant something was wrong.”

When Malobola awoke, she was told the operation was over, but that her baby girl had to be taken to the neonatal intensive care unit as she was not well. Later that day, she saw her baby for the first time.

“She looked so tiny and fragile in that incubator. There were tubes and machines but I didn’t know what they were for,” she said.

Malobola was discharged two days later but her baby remained behind. She had to undergo ventriculoperitoneal shunting surgery – an operation during which excess fluid in the brain is drained.

The surgery was performed when little Kamogelo was two weeks old and it was then that Malobola and her partner received a proper explanation.

“The doctor told us that Kamogelo had fluid in the brain and it had affected her spine. He said if I had arrived earlier, the condition could have been prevented.”

Now two, Kamogelo can’t walk, talk or sit unsupported.

Malobola says she has accepted that her daughter may never do those things. But it still pains her to see her friends’ children, who are the same age, running around and playing.

“I always wonder what my little girl would have grown up to be. I had so many dreams for her and they may never come true,” she said. Malobola and her partner, Patrick Mabuya, are not sure about having another baby.

“The pain and trauma of knowing that your child may never live a normal life is still fresh in her mind,” said Mabuya.

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