Johannesburg - A 40-year-old Rietspruit woman is suing the North West MEC for Health for close to R2 million after her cervical operations were allegedly bungled.
It all began in 2009. Catherine Mokale was sickly and had a pain in her abdomen.
“I went to a clinic, did tests and was sent to Paul Kruger Hospital to be seen by a gynaecologist. The doctor said I had cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) III and told me I had to remove my womb,” she told The Star.
CIN refers to changes in the cervix that may or may not be precursors to cervical cancer; CIN III is characterised by severely abnormal cells in the cervix.
Mokale was 35 years old at the time and already had a son. She was scheduled to have a total hysterectomy.
“Two years later, in 2011, I started feeling some pains. I went for a check-up and was told I had cysts on my ovaries. I didn’t know what a cyst was, but was told they had to remove my ovaries.”
A cone biopsy was performed on her. The procedure removes abnormal tissue that is high in the cervical canal.
“The operation was done in January 2012 and a pad was left inside me,” she said.
Soon afterwards, Mokale said she began experiencing a stench coming from her genitals.
“People would come in the house and think a rat had died. I couldn’t tell people that smell was coming from me… I couldn’t urinate properly when I sat, and when I stood up, the urine streamed down my legs.”
She said she knew something was wrong, and eight days after her surgery, she manually removed the vaginal swab.
“I went back to the hospital and the doctor just said I must throw that swab away. He gave me some medication for the smell and antibiotics. I wasn’t checked for any damage,” she said.
Mokale filed a complaint at the hospital and was called in during March 2012 for a meeting with the matron.
She wasn’t satisfied with the outcome of the meeting and took the matter to the Public Protector. An arrangement was made that she meet the hospital again.
“Next thing, they told me my file was lost and they would perform another operation with a new file. I felt they didn’t take me seriously, and it angered me.”
Mokale has recruited lawyers to fight her case.
“The claim comprises, inter alia, past and future medical, hospital and related treatment; past and future loss of earnings/ earning capacity and general damages for pain and suffering, loss of amenities for life, trauma etc,” said Jean-Paul Rudd, of law firm Adams & Adams.
Mokale, who also supports her disabled parents, works as casual labourer at Pick n Pay.