Mom told to store premature baby's body in freezer

2015-02-27 10:30

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Mbombela - A distraught woman has recounted how hospital staff failed to help her while her premature baby boy's head was stuck after 33 hours in labour.

The 23-year-old Barberton woman told Netwerk24's Buks Viljoen that she had to pull the baby out herself, after hearing him gasping for breath between her legs.

Hospital staff then took the baby away and attached a blood pressure monitor to his arm and waited for him to die. He stopped breathing about two hours later.

The woman's ordeal started on 2 February when she was 24 weeks pregnant. She went to the Barberton provincial hospital, where a doctor told her she was having a miscarriage. They would not admit her to the maternity ward and she ended up in a surgical ward.

The doctor induced her and told her that if the baby weighed more than 500 grams he'd try to save his life.

She was left in the ward, with nurses periodically coming to check on her. When the baby started to come out, she experienced excruciating pain and was given painkillers and three Pethidine injections.


Her trauma did not end after the baby died. She said a staff member suggested she take his body home and store it in a freezer until an undertaker fetched it. She was shocked and asked the hospital to keep the body in the mortuary.

When the undertaker arrived the next morning, he could not find the body, and eventually located it in a red plastic bag in the hospital laundry room.

The baby's body was later cremated.

The mother said she has written several letters to the hospital and Mpumalanga health department but has received no response. No investigation has been launched, and the department did not respond to questions from Netwerk24.

- Health24: Pre-term birth

- Health24: Miscarriage

Read more on:    mbombela  |  health

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