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At hospital’s mercy, now hope dawns

A year and four months of walking around with a colostomy bag, a huge growth on his stomach and pain and discomfort may finally come to an end for 75-year-old Antonie Vosloo. That is if the hospital the bag was fitted in admits him and removes it this week.

The Sunnyside pensioner was fitted with a colostomy bag after a procedure on his intestines at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in January last year. “They said it was temporary and would be removed after two months,” he said.

Antonie Vosloo was told his colostomy bag should have been removed a year ago, but it could not be done as there have not been hospital beds available at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital. Photo: Etienne Creux. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

But when Vosloo returned on the appointed date he was told there were no beds in ICU and he was turned away. He was given a return date in September.

“That morning I went there, was examined, X-rays were taken, and I was given consent forms to sign and sent to a ward to be admitted.”

But then he was told to go back home because there were still no beds. Vosloo said this happened a number of times until January this year when he was shown a list with his name in seventh place.

“I was told to expect a call in April, but it never came.”

Hernias started developing out of his stomach and a big one ballooned in the opening of the stomach.

The growth – the size of a small football – hanging down to his groin, is painful and very uncomfortable.

It has made the task of cleaning and replacing the disposable bag difficult, Vosloo said.

Of the mass of outgrowth on his stomach, he says: “It is very unpleasant and an inconvenience that pulls me back.”

It also deprived him of sleep because he could not lie on either side – the left because he would sleep on it and the right because it became painful and uncomfortable. “I’m forced to sleep on my back. That makes me snore and wakes me up.”

Vosloo said he feared that he was getting older and weaker. “This can only be detrimental to any procedure and healing process.”

He uses a cane to walk around because he is afraid of falling and his movements have become slower.

“Going to hospital has become a mission,” he said. It also damaged his morale every time he was forced to go back home when he was turned away, he said.

The hospital has denied turning Vosloo away, saying he has not been seen in the outpatient department where follow-ups are normally done and where he would have been evaluated and referred for surgery if necessary.

The hospital’s chief executive, Dr Ernest Kenoshi, said: “We have a list of at least 500 patients awaiting different operations.”

A patient’s illness determined their position on the list. It could change when a patient with a more urgent illness like cancer came in.

Kenoshi promised that Vosloo would be called for an assessment.

Vosloo is expected to go to the hospital on Wednesday and may have surgery next Monday

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