8-year struggle over

2015-04-21 00:00

“MY miracle baby.”

This is how Pietermaritzburg mother Humaira Rahman feels about her beloved son, Raheem (10), who suffers from cerebral palsy and is severely disabled as a result of negligence by Northdale Hospital nurses.

The baby was deprived of oxygen when the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck during birth and staff did not know how to respond.

The little boy is physically completely reliant on his mother for all his needs, and cannot speak but appears to understand his mother’s words, and makes his needs known using sign language.

He needs constant care.

Rahman, who is divorced from ­Raheem’s father, sued the MEC for Health in KZN, and yesterday lawyers for the department conceded the state is ­liable to pay 100% of proven damages for Raheem.

The original claim against the Department of Health was for R16 006 000, but the amount that will ultimately be paid will only be finalised during future legal proceedings.

An emotional Rahman told The ­Witness she could not thank her legal team — Siva and Thegan Chetty, and advocates Yoga Moodley SC and Rocky Ramdass — enough for not giving up on her son’s case.

“Siva Chetty has helped me since 2007 and did not give up the fight for justice for my baby even when Northdale Hospital said there were no records of me or Raheem at the hospital and even denied at first that I gave birth at the hospital,” she said.

“I am very glad the eight-year struggle is over, especially for the boy’s sake because this can change his life,” ­Chetty said.

“The most striking feature is that we did this case without any medical documentation whatsoever,” he added.

Rahman described her nightmare ordeal when she gave birth to Raheem on October 22, 2004, assisted only by two nurses — one a trainee — who, she said, showed patients “no respect” and were unsympathetic about her pain.

When Raheem’s head crowned with the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around his neck they did not know what to do and ignored her screams to go and get help for at least 10 minutes.

It was her husband who eventually ran to fetch a sister who then fully delivered the baby and cut the cord.

“He was actually still-born. He was blue and swollen,” she said.

“My baby did not cry until he was more than a month old and then it was more like a purr.

“His vocal cords were so damaged,” said Rahman.

“My baby has been robbed of his past, his present and his future … It breaks my heart when he watches other children play and can’t do what they do.”

She said it was important hospital staff realised that if they didn’t do their jobs they were playing with people’s lives.

Rahman said the settlement will enable her to move from her tiny home consisting of a single room and kitchen to somewhere more spacious.

It will also buy equipment and the means for advanced therapy to help ­Raheem to become more functional and cope with his disabilities.

“At first they told me that my baby would be fine though his first milestones might be delayed … When he was 10 months old, they first told me he had cerebral palsy,” she said.

Last month at a physiotherapy session she saw Raheem walk for the first time on a walker equipped with straps tied to his thighs. “It was so special … watching him walk away from me for the first time,” she said tearfully.

Despite the hardships of caring for the boy, Rahman’s love for Raheem is clear to see as she tenderly reaches out to touch him in his push chair.

“God gave him back to me for a reason and I am so grateful. He is my miracle child,” she says.

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