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Pretoria - Not able to bear her teenage son’s agonising cries any longer, a mother turned to the Pretoria High Court to force the Steve Biko Academic Hospital to give her son urgent surgery.
The court heard her pleas and gave the state 30 days to attend to the youth and pay the mother’s court costs.
Marco Naude, 17, of Rayton, was due to have a screw removed from his knee and replaced with a shorter one a year ago, but he was turned away from the hospital time and again.
“Every time we asked the hospital when the operation would take place, as my son is suffering, the reply remained the same. They said we had to be patient, and they would contact us when it is his turn. They said my son’s name was on a waiting list,” Suzette Naude said.
But her son was in constant, agonising pain.
“I felt that an urgent plan had to be made. The hospital always has a list of excuses. These include that they either don’t have a bed or there is no doctor available. In the meantime I must witness my son suffering. When he cries, I cry. There is nothing I can do for him, other than try and console him. No parent can bear her child going through this,” she told the Pretoria News on Thursday.
Judge Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi this week ordered the hospital and the Gauteng Department of Health to immediately see to it that Marco received treatment. The judge also ordered that the screw be removed within 30 days of the order’s being granted.
Naude told the Pretoria News on Thursday that she had not yet heard a word from the hospital. “I have been waiting for the call, but there has been nothing yet.”
In June last year, Marco was involved in a motorbike accident and fractured his knee. He was operated on and the doctor explained that he had to insert a long screw into Marco’s knee, because of the massive swelling, the mother stated in court papers.
He said the long screw, however, had to be replaced with a shorter one as soon as the swelling went down. The doctor warned that the longer screw would be protruding into the tissue around the knee and would cause immense pain and limit movement.
“Just as the doctor explained to me, my son complained that his knee was very painful and that he could hardly move. He was active before, but he is now reduced to sitting down and watching television or reading.”
The mother added that in July last year, she asked the hospital on several occasions when it was going to replace the screw, as her son was suffering. She said all the excuses were difficult to accept, but she had no choice.
In September last year, they were phoned and told her son should report to the hospital, because the operation had been scheduled. When they arrived, they were told Marco’s position was “accidentally” allocated to another patient.
They were told to report the next day, only to be told other patients had filled his place. This happened a few times and every time they were told his operation was not urgent and he was on a waiting list.
Naude said waiting at hospital to be admitted, day-in and day-out, caused her son a great deal of pain.
“The emotional distress of seeing your loved one in pain and not able to do anything is extremely difficult,” she told the court.
She said while she understood life-threatening operations should be performed first, it was impossible that there had been no opening for her son since September last year.
Naude, in desperation, contacted a private hospital, but was told it would cost R85 000 – money she does not have.
This week she approached the court.
Naude said her son had already lost his job at a retail shop as he could barely move.
“I am frustrated and in pain. I also cannot be a burden on my parents for much longer,” Marco said.
His lawyer, Johan Jansen van Vuuren, said the health authorities first indicated they would oppose the action, but nobody bothered to pitch up at court.
Attempts to secure comment from the hospital and the Gauteng Department of Health drew a blank.