South Coast rallies to help elephantiasis sufferer

2011-05-25 00:00

A SOUTH Coast elephantiasis sufferer expects to be able to walk out of a Johannesburg private hospital after undergoing an operation on her leg yesterday evening.

The disease left Nana Ntombela (37) unable to walk because of a severely swollen left leg. She was admitted to Netcare Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg on Sunday, and had therapy in preparation for the operation.

Community members on the South Coast who rallied to help Ntombela have spent the past few months raising awareness about the operation, which took several hours in a theatre at Netcare Sunninghill yesterday.

Hospital general manager Robert Jordaan said Ntombela is expected to recover well after the surgery.

“The therapy was amazing and she is very positive about the whole process. She went into theatre this afternoon. Unfortunately she was delayed because of other emergencies. cannot say much about this until she comes out of theatre. It seems she will be there for a while,” Jordaan added.

He said negotiations for the hospital to come on board to help Ntombela started in February after the South African Police Women’s Network made a plea on her behalf.

Ntombela is expected to start walking with a help of a walking stick. A hospital employee said Ntombela’s husband was waiting for her outside the theatre.

“The progress is superb, and this has been quicker than we expected. We expected that she would take at least a month before undergoing the operation,” said the employee.

“Her husband is nervous and we are also nervous, but she is really positive. By the time she joins her community her condition should be improved.”

Attempts to talk to her husband were unsuccessful as the hospital requested that he be allowed to focus on his wife’s progress.

What is elephantiasis?

ELEPHANTIASIS is a disease in which parasitic worms block the lymph system, causing severe, often disabling swelling of the legs and sometimes the male genitals. According to the World Health Organisation, over 120 million people in African and Asia are currently infected, with about 40 million disfigured and incapacitated by the disease.

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