Family set to lay criminal charges against top surgeon Peter Beale, more families tell their tales

2019-10-24 12:26
Zayyaan Sayed

Zayyaan Sayed (Sayed family)

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Following the death of Mohammadh Sayed's 10-year-old son, Zayyaan, the family is set to lay criminal charges against well-known paediatric surgeon Dr Peter Beale and anaesthetist Dr Abdulhay Munshi.

Both doctors have since been suspended from practicing at Netcare facilities pending an independent investigation.

News24 also understands that Beale had been suspended from Mediclinic in 2016 but continued to practice at Netcare.

Both Netcare and Mediclinic declined to comment. 

According to Sayed family lawyer Rob Kanarek, the family intended pursuing criminal charges against Beale and Munshi. He said they would also apply to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for the men's suspension pending a hearing to revoke their licenses to practice.

"What our mandate is, is to ensure that this does not happen again," Kanarek said.

"We have obtained an undertaking from Netcare that he (Beale) is suspended pending an inquiry as to what occurred. It has assured us that it is an independent inquiry and that it will leave no stone unturned to find out what happened." 

He added that since Zayyaan's death, many families who have lost their children after being treated by Beale's have made contact with him.

"There are a number of people who have made contact with us. In fact, there are a number of people who are creating their own chat [groups] whereby they will communicate and feed the information back to us."

Zayyaan's lung collapsed shortly after a routine laparoscopic surgery. He was taken to the intensive care unit but died not long after that.

Speaking to News24, Mohammadh Sayed claimed Zayyaan was not the only child who had died after going under Beale's knife.

"This is not an isolated incident, it's been happening way too many times to way too many children and those grieving families, who lost their loved ones, still don't have closure because Beale is still allowed to operate.

"I hold Beale and Munshi wholly responsible for the tragic loss of my son but I will  be damned if I allow them to continue practicing, or malpracticing, on anyone else's children," he said.

"I lost my first-born son, there's nothing anyone can do to bring him back," Sayed said. 

Speaking to News24, Munshi said Zayyaan had a rare complication which they tried to treat, adding that both he and Beale were still traumatised by Zayyaan's death. 

He acknowledged the Sayed family was grieving and very hurt, adding it was their right to approach the courts. 

"It's now a couple of days, I'm still shaken by this thing. I can't sleep at night. You keep asking yourself 'What if?' or 'Could I have done something different?' But I think I did my best," he said. 

In response to News24's questions, Beale's lawyer Jeanne Albertse said: "Prof Beale is unable to currently comment further on Zayyaan's passing. However, he stands ready to participate in any legitimate investigation by appropriate authorities into Zayaan's [sic] demise."

Sayed said dozens of families have come forward to tell their stories about their nightmare experiences with Beale and how they lost their children.

Thuso Mokoena lost his six-month-old baby boy in 2016 after Beale replaced his gastronomy tube, a feeding tube inserted through the stomach, with a mickey button (similar to a feeding tube).

Mokoena said when the procedure began, he went for a coffee.

By the time he had come back, he added, he was shocked to find that Beale had completed the procedure.

"He just pulled out the feeding tube and then he just left," Mokoena told News24.

"He pulled it and not even gently, he just pulled it and left, and the baby cried … he cried until he was exhausted.

"We took the baby home and he died the very same day," he said, adding he could not get hold of Beale to speak to him about his baby's death.

In a letter to the family penned by Beale, which News24 has seen, he said these were unexpected complications.

Beale added the baby had started bleeding from his nose and could not be resuscitated by paramedics, saying it would have been improper to call what had happened "gross negligence".

Mokoena said Beale had refused to take responsibility for his son's death.

"When he pulled that [tube], I think he hurt him because he cried so much, and [Beale] didn't even bother."

Iqbal Allie is yet another father who claimed Beale had botched a routine procedure on his two-year-old baby girl.

Allie told News24 he was under the impression that she was supposed to go for a biopsy on her thyroid to examine the tissue, however, Beale ended up removing it.

"We got into the theatre room … and all of a sudden all the doctors started speeding things up, so I thought maybe it's Friday afternoon, maybe they're all rushing to get home," he recalled.

"My child started coming out after being under anaesthetic, and started screaming. Blood was coming from her throat - the stitches by her throat.

"We carried her all the way to reception, reception didn't know what to do [and] gave her some Panado syrup and told us to take her home," he said.

Fortunately, she started to heal within a few days and Allie and his former wife thought the operation was a success, none the wiser that her thyroid had been removed.

It was only after about nine months that he noticed his daughter had become cretin (a person who is physically deformed and has learning difficulties because of congenital thyroid deficiency). A year later, another doctor pointed out that something was not right.

Tests were done on the baby and they realised there was no activity in her thyroid. She then went on hormone replacement medication.

Allie said the family later sued the state and won.

Regarding these cases, Albertse said her client was "unable to meaningfully comment" on these claims.

"Prof Beale is, however, unable to meaningfully comment on those cases given, amongst other things, the anonymity of the complaints, the forum in which the complaints are raised and the vague terms in which the complaints are couched," wrote Albertse in response to questions from News24.

She added: "Prof Beale would like to assure patients that he has always consistently strived to maintain the reasonable standards expected of him as a paediatric surgeon in his medical management of patients and shall continue to do so going forward."

Read more on:    netcare  |  peter beale  |  mohammadh sayed  |  medical negligence
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