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Three months after Dinika McCabe was diagnosed with meningitis, after earlier being treated for flu-like symptoms, the Newlands East toddler has died, leaving her distraught family searching for answers.
“She was our joy and inspiration. She really kept us going,” said her grandmother, Maysa Cooper, who was also her caregiver as Dinika’s mom lives and works in Johannesburg.
Cooper had taken two-year-old Dinika to a general practitioner in March and she was allegedly diagnosed with the flu and given an injection and antibiotics.
Two days later, Cooper said Dinika was getting worse, so she took her back to the Newlands surgery.
“(The doctor) wasn’t there, so his partner treated Dinika. He looked at her file, gave her another flu injection and said she must continue with her medication,” she said.
“By the weekend, she had a fever, was vomiting and started having convulsions. We called the ambulance and on the way to the hospital there were more convulsions.”
After a scan at Addington Hospital, Cooper said she was told her granddaughter had meningitis. “The doctors said it should’ve been picked up earlier and if it had been it could’ve been successfully treated. They said she had suffered brain damage.”
Bubbly and energetic in her short life, little Dinika died on Wednesday last week, two days after the Daily News visited the family at their home. Cooper had been trying to pacify the child, who was crying from the pain. The grandmother had said she could not sleep as Dinika required round-the-clock care.
Approached for comment, the doctor said it was not ethical for him to discuss a patient with a third party
. “All I can say is that I sympathise with the family and offer my condolences to them,” he said.
He said he was unaware that Dinika was diagnosed with meningitis and had since died.
After being diagnosed with meningitis, Dinika was taken to Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital where fluid had to be drained from her brain, said Cooper. A shunt was inserted in the little girl’s brain in order to move the fluid.
“She was moved back to Addington Hospital where we learnt that she couldn’t see, walk or talk. She was in hospital for two-and-a half months.”
During that time, Dinika could only eat and drink liquids fed through a syringe.
She was later discharged and was cared for by her grandmother.
According to the medical book, “Bacterial meningitis in children”, meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
The most common symptoms listed are headaches and neck stiffness associated with fever, confusion or altered consciousness, vomiting, and an inability to tolerate light or loud noises.
To highlight Dinika’s plight, a message was recently broadcast on Blackberry Messenger (BBM) urging people to pray for the child.
After her death, people had contributed towards the cost of her funeral on Saturday.
The family said they had not returned to the Newlands doctor or complained about what they felt was a misdiagnosis as they were devastated after finding out she had meningitis. All they had wanted to do was to concentrate on caring for Dinika.
“At first, all I used to do was cry, but I realised I have to be strong for Dinika,” Cooper said in an interview two days before the child died.
Lawyer Antonio de Sousa, who volunteered his services to the family, said he would discuss with them the option of filing a complaint against the doctor with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (Hpcsa).
The council’s spokeswoman, Lize Nel, said the council had to receive a complaint in order for it to investigate.
“If a case is reported in the media, we would investigate on behalf of the public, but it is always easier if a patient or the patient’s family lodges a formal complaint,” she said.