Family to sue after son dies

Crime & Courts

Kimberley - The family of a Windsorton pupil intends to take legal action against the Northern Cape Department of Health after their 15-year-old son died after waiting nine hours for an ambulance to transport him to Kimberley.

The funeral of Marcel Swanepoel, a Grade 9 learner who attended Diamantveld High School, will take place at the Dutch Reformed Church in Windsorton today.

Share this story
Seun (father) and Malie (mother) Swanepoel are distraught after their son's death. They are seen here at the Diamond Pavillion Mall after they came through from Windsorton to start making funeral arrangements and get essentials for home. Their eldest son brought them through, because the father was too upset to take the wheel.  Picture: Lizéll MullerMarcel Swanepoel (15)

A distraught Seun Swanepoel told the DFA on Tuesday that his son could still have been alive today, had he received prompt medical care at the Warrenton Hospital, which lacked vital necessities.

“I want to take the matter further, because it might prevent the death of someone else’s child. Parents are not supposed to bury their children.”

Seun said he cannot erase from his memory, how the tears rolled down Marcel’s cheeks when he assured him at the hospital that if he was tired of fighting, he could rest.

Malie Swanepoel said that her son travelled from Windsorton to attend school in Kimberley every day and that he was in good health.

“We were celebrating his elder brother, Eben’s 19th birthday and he was swimming and riding his motorbike over the weekend. On Tuesday (February 5) he woke up and said that he was not feeling well and had a headache. I immediately took him to the nearest hospital, which is in Warrenton.”

She stated that the doctor at casualties had diagnosed him with meningitis and referred him for a lumber puncture at the Kimberley Hospital because Warrenton Hospital did not have the needles for the procedure.

“We were left sitting on steel chairs from 10.30am until 7pm, waiting for an ambulance to arrive and during that time Marcel lost consciousness. I thought that he was sleeping because he did not speak to me and I did not know if he was thirsty or needed something. I kept on asking when the ambulance would come to collect him. It would have been faster to arrange for private transport to take him to Kimberley but they kept on telling me that the ambulance was on its way.”

She added that, once they had finally arrived at the Kimberley Hospital nine hours later, she had to assist the personnel in lifting her son out of the ambulance.

“I tried to wake him up but he was not responding. One of the doctors came to my assistance. They did everything possible to save him.”

Malie indicated that he was admitted to the casualty unit and they were informed that he would be transferred to the intensive care unit if his condition improved.

“On February 6, one of the doctors told me that he was brain dead. I refused to believe him and asked for a second opinion. The second doctor detected neurological activity and moved him over to the ICU. They said that he was a fighter and that he could breathe on his own. He also reacted when they put in an intravenous drip, so he was able to feel pain.

“On Friday (last week) his condition deteriorated, his blood pressure dropped and they switched off the life support machines at 6am.

“Marcel was always top of his class and still wanted to do so many things. He wanted to be a pilot. It is so unfair that he died at such a young age.”

Malie said that all his school friends would attend the funeral on Wednesday.

Spokeswoman for the Northern Cape Department of Health, Lulu Mxekezo, stated that an investigation had been launched to ascertain the cause of the delay in getting the boy to a hospital in Kimberley.

“The department expresses condolences to the bereaved family. We will inform the family about the outcome of the investigation in due course. Appropriate action will be implemented if there was any negligence.”

She pointed out that the health facility in Warrenton had sufficient medication and medical supplies.

DA MP, Willem Faber, called on the MEC for Health, Mxolisi Sokatsha, to urgently investigate allegations of negligence involving staff at Warrenton Hospital.

“We need to establish how many other patients have died as a result of the negligence of medical personnel as well as the lack of resources? Does the hospital only have one ambulance?”

He added that it was ludicrous for a patient in an emergency situation to wait almost nine hours for medical transport.

“Medical personnel informed Malie that they were busy with critical cases and that they first had to collect night shift personnel before departing for Kimberley, where he later died. The doctors did everything in their power to try and save him.”

Faber added that the family did not have a medical aid and required legal assistance to institute legal action.

“The hospital should have signed the release form, if there was a transport problem, to allow the family to transport their son to Kimberley sooner.”

Diamond Fields Advertiser

Share this story