R16 million for tragic baby


Life is an uphill battle for four-year-old Tshepo*.

He has spastic quadriplegia (a severe form of cerebral palsy), epilepsy and serious respiratory problems and has to be cared for constantly. He can’t eat solid food so his mom, Nobuhle* (44), has to liquefy everything.

He suffered irreversible brain damage after nurses at Bhisho Hospital in the Eastern Cape refused to schedule an emergency Caesarean section for his pregnant mother, Nobuhle*.

‘‘He’s confined to this house,’’ she says, looking around her modest Bhisho home. ‘‘Allowing him to play outside on his own is too dangerous.’’

The future is bleak for Tshepo. But amid the hardship his mom and grandmother, Martha*, now have one consolation: a successful damages claim will ensure they’ll be able to provide him with proper care.

Nobuhle was recently awarded a R16-million out-of-court settlement after suing former Eastern Cape MEC for health Nomsa Jajula for negligence that resulted in Tshepo’s condition.

For Nobuhle, a single mom, and Martha, who are both unemployed and have been surviving on Martha’s social grant, R16 million will make a huge difference.

‘‘When Tshepo was discharged from hospital four years ago he looked like a dead spider,’’ Nobuhle recalls. ‘‘He couldn’t move his limbs but we tried our best to take care of him. This settlement will mean we can get him the best treatment.

‘‘But it’s not just about the money – it’s about justice. I hope mothers will take my humble advice to always pay attention to what doctors and nurses are doing.’’

Watching her son at play Nobuhle smiles sadly. ‘‘To think Tshepo would have been normal if only the nurses had cared. But he’s still my sweet little boy – the man of the house.’’

* Names changed to protect the child. Read the full article in YOU, 17 March 2011.

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