Woman traumatised over ‘lost’ implant

2019-07-03 06:02
The woman wants answers from Department of Health after doctors failed to remove implant.

The woman wants answers from Department of Health after doctors failed to remove implant.

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WHEN a young Greytown woman visited a local hospital in 2014 to ask about a family planning procedure she never thought that the implanted device would become lost and irretrievable from her body, potentially shattering her dream of one day becoming a mother.

The 22-year old woman from Solomon Township, whose name is withheld to protect her identity, was left with scars on her left upper arm after numerous surgical tests failed to locate the implant.

More disturbing was that doctors and nurses from Greytown Hospital in 2015 did X-ray tests and, according to the woman, the tests showed that the plastic tube was still in her body however the doctors allegedly told her that they were unable to locate it.

She said that when the straw-like device was initially inserted in 2014 she thought everything would go well, however she fell ill about a month later and decided to go back to the hospital to remove it.

“Nurses scolded me and demanded a reason as to why I wanted to remove it. They even asked me if I wanted to remove it because I wanted to fall pregnant,” she said. “I told the nurse that I was not feeling well after the implant was placed in my body,” she said.

Since then, and for the past four years, she has been visiting hospitals, seeking help from health professionals, to no avail.

In 2015, she claimed that a nurse agreed to cut the spot where they had placed the implant: “I did the first check-up. The nurse called the doctor. He checked my arm but could not locate it from the spot where it was inserted. They gave me another appointment to come and do another test. I went back for my second appointment and other tests were conducted. They cut the wound to check if it[implant] was in the skin. The doctor said he was unable to find it.

“I was then given a referral letter to Grey’s Hospital. The first doctor who attended me cut the wound to check if he could find it. He did not find it,” she said.

“He dressed the wound with a bandage and told me to come back once it properly healed so that we can do other tests.

“Since then I have been given the run-arounds by the staff at Grey’s Hospital and I could see that I was becoming a nuisance to them.

“I was also given another appointment for November 27, 2017. On this day I was unable to attend because I was writing my exams. In January 2018 I went back to Grey’s Hospital to make an appointment with the doctor. I was told to come back another day for a check-up. I went back again. Other X-ray tests were done, but the doctors still failed to remove it. Thereafter I was fed a new story — that the implant had moved to the main cells in the body. I gave up.”

Adding to this was the trauma in her realisation that she may never be able to fall pregnant in the future.

“When I see the scars on my arm it reminds me that I will not have babies. I’m scared because, since the implant is in my body, it might cause side-effects at a later stage,” she said.

The devastated Greytown woman is demanding answers from the Department of Health. She wants clarity on how the device became lost and irretrievable; and whether she will be able to conceive and have babies in the future.

Former DA KZN spokesperson on Health, Dr Imran Keeka MPL, who is now the party’s provincial spokesperson on Education, said doctors need to determine the causes that led to the disappearance of the device in the patient’s body.

“The Department of Health need to launch an investigation on this case and find out what happened. Blood tests should be taken — it’s only the clinicians that are able to tell us what happened to the device.

“Some women may feel unwell after the implant has been inserted in their bodies. In this case we need to look at all the scenarios. It could be a faulty device. It could be several reasons. “The device does not get absorbed by the body. Doctors need to do a proper investigation regarding this case.”

Keena encouraged women to use other contraceptive methods, such as condoms and birth control pills.

Spokesperson for the KZN Department of Health Ncumisa Mafunda said: “Although the Department is prohibited from divulging the clinical details of a patient and how they are managed, the Department can nevertheless confirm that it is aware of the case of a patient who needed assistance with the surgical removal of a sub-dermal implant. The patient was last seen on 1 August 2018, where a plan was made to remove it under ultrasound guidance. The following appointment date for the removal was 1 July 2019 which the patient did not adhere to.

Generally, the movement of the implant is a known complication of contraceptive methods that are implanted either subcutaneously or intra-uterine. The treatment in such cases entails locating the implant and removing it from where it has migrated.

If an implant has migrated becomes deep-seated, it does not mean it is irretrievable. As a result, care has been the escalated appropriately and a plan has been put in place to remove it with the guidance of ultrasound with a Radiologist Interventionist as scheduled by the surgeons. The patient is urged to return to the hospital and see the Public Relations Officer to reschedule another appointment.

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