Saving babies

 For the diminutive Angel Kubeka walking four kilometres uphill, all the way, was a small price to pay to get her unborn child to the safety of Durban’s Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital.

The 20-year-old Angel is one of thousands of pregnant women throughout South Africa who have had to endure physical hardship and great anxiety since the beginning of the Government healthcare workers’ strike, nearly ten days old. Since her labour pains started early this morning she has been seeking assistance, mostly on foot. 


Angel’s first baby was born by Caesarean section when she was only 17. As her first pregnancy was a difficult one she has been keeping a close watch on the health of the second baby all along. This morning she walked to the clinic in Kwamashu only to find the doors firmly locked. Her search for help took her to King Edward Hospital where treatment was unfortunately refused.


Never one to give up – especially not when it comes to her children – Angel opted to walk the four kilometres from King Edward, all the way up the hill to the impressive structure at the top. She had heard about the kindness of the people at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital and was sure that this time she would not be turned away. 


Angel was not disappointed. Once there, she was immediately taken under the protective wing of Sr Zodwa Ndela in the maternity ward. Sitting in her hospital bed, with a happy smile on her face, she is at last at peace in the knowledge that her unborn baby is safe and sound. At 17h30 this afternoon her little boy will be born by caesarean section. Dr Nikhil Singh, her newfound doctor, has done all the necessary checks and has re-assured her that her baby will be a healthy little boy.


The past 24 hours has been a busy time for Netcare hospitals throughout the country, as the Stork has delivered no fewer than five babies to women seeking urgent assistance. It started last night outside Netcare Rand Hospital near Hillbrow in Johannesburg where an anxious Lindi Moyo finally could not hold back the birth of her baby any longer.


Her labour pains had come a good four to six weeks early at about 13h00 that afternoon. From there onwards she faced an uphill battle that took her from the local community clinic to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital and finally to the place where she would find help, albeit too late for the birth of her baby.


Somewhere between Charlotte Maxeke and Netcare Rand Hospital she delivered her baby spontaneously in the back of the metre taxi. The 21-year old mother and her baby had reached their destination and help was at hand. At the hospital the concerned staff immediately admitted Lindi but specialised, emergency assistance was urgently needed for her newborn baby boy. The very sick Ndumiso, or “Praise” as he has been named, has been admitted to Netcare Park Lane Hospital where he is currently on a ventilator.


On the other side of town a Netcare 911 ambulance is fighting its way through the early morning traffic on route from Randjiesfontein to Netcare Park Lane Hospital with two “teeny, weenie” little babies on board. This time the young mother, Fortunate Cavira, had to her amazement given birth to twins. All along she had expected one very large baby and now, quite a few weeks early and most unexpectedly, there were two seriously underweight babies in her life.


Upon arrival at a smallholding in Randjiesfontein, Craig Grindell, Regional General Manager Inland Operations, of Netcare 911 and a highly experienced Advanced Life Support Paramedic had his hands full. One of the babies had entered the world feet first and the first had been spontaneously delivered. Both had to be resuscitated, as they were not breathing. For Craig the miracle of it all is the fact that the tiny set of twins who tipped the scales at well below a kilo each had survived at all.  


After having brought some 30-odd babies into the world during his career this veteran paramedic rather enjoys this part of his vocation, although he is hesitant to admit it. He does concede that he and his colleagues have been busier than normal doing the Stork’s business since the start of the strike.


In a well-publicised case last week, Netcare 911 paramedics delivered a baby in the back seat of a car in the parking lot of the Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, before mother and child were admitted into the emergency ward of the hospital. The mom-to-be was turned away from a public facility before being taken to Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital by a Good Samaritan who found her by the roadside.


“I was so touched when I read the article about the delivery of a child in the car park at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital,” wrote one mother from Mayville near Durban. “It was so good and generous of your staff to help her. I had my two babies delivered at the hospital and have nothing but the highest praise for the staff there. I even want to do nursing now because of all the love and care that I got from the hospital. Keep it up. What you are doing is caring beyond the call of duty.”

(Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare, 27 August 2010)

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