In the latest in a series of massive negligence claims, the Gauteng health MEC has been ordered to pay more than R19 million in damages to a single mother whose baby was left blind and suffering from cerebral palsy due to a lack of oxygen during her birth.
Judge Jody Kollapen yesterday ordered the health MEC to pay the amount to the attorneys acting on behalf of the mother, Lindiwe Ngwenya, 37, and her five-year old daughter Omphile, of KwaThema in Ekurhuleni.
The amount will be managed by a trust on behalf of Omphile, who will require full-time care for the rest of her life. Ngwenya initially instituted a damages claim of more than R34 million on behalf of Omphile, who was left blind and suffering from spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, after a prolonged birthing process which started at the KwaThema clinic late one night in March 2012.
She was born by Caesarean section at Pholosong Hospital hours later.
The baby girl was severely asphyxiated and had a dislocated knee when she was born. Ngwenya alleged in court papers that her daughter’s condition was the result of the negligence of the staff at both the clinic and the hospital.
They failed to realise that her baby was probably too large for natural birth, or to arrange for her timeous transfer to hospital for an emergency Caesarean section.
Ngwenya was only seen by a doctor hours after being transferred to the hospital, by which time her baby had already been in distress for a long time.
According to expert reports, Omphile is permanently blind, suffers from seizures, is spastic, has no muscle control, cannot sit unaided, cannot talk, walk or use her hands and has to always wear nappies.
Her mother, who has so far survived on child care grants, has to feed her a soft diet because she cannot bite or chew and has trouble swallowing, while she receives liquids through a syringe. Omphile does not have a wheelchair and her mother uses a small baby pram or carries her when she has to be transported.
The little girl lives with her unemployed mother, three siblings and several other family members in a two-roomed house, where she shares a bed with her mother.