In yet another tragic botched birth case, the Mpumalanga Health MEC has accepted full liability for the brain damage suffered by a baby girl because of the negligence of staff at a state hospital in Volksrust.
Zama Phewa, then 21, was sent home with Khethelo not long after the little girl was born without breathing in September 2012.
This was after Phewa battled for hours to give birth without doctors intervening at any stage.
When she complained that she was in unbearable pain, nurses at the Amajuba Memorial Hospital told her she must go back to bed and not teach them their work.
According to court papers, her baby had to be resuscitated, developed seizures and had to be put in an incubator, but she was told her child was normal when they were sent home, although the baby still had to be fed with a syringe.
She only realised that Khethelo had suffered severe brain damage because of a lack of oxygen during her birth when a sister at the clinic referred her to a doctor because her child was not developing normally at nine months.
Her daughter suffered from quadriplegic cerebral palsy as a result and will for the rest of her life be incontinent, unable to sit unaided or stand, walk, speak or feed herself.
She will never be able to get an education, pursue a career or conduct her own affairs.
The bulk of Phewa’s damages claim of over R14 million is for specialised equipment, treatment and 24-hour care for her daughter.
Two specialist obstetricians said in a joint report there was no evidence of any form of foetal monitoring from the start of the second stage of labour until Khethelo was born more than two hours later.
The specialists agreed that due to a prolonged second stage of labour, Khethelo was exposed to prolonged hypoxia, resulting in a severe and permanent mental handicap.
They said there was poor management of the labour process.
Two paediatricians said in a report it was clear the baby’s Apgar scores had been altered, as it did not correlate with written descriptions of her clinical features.
The extent of damages will only be determined at a later stage.
– Ilse de Lange