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Pretoria - A team of specialists were brought together to try to save the life of a 20-year-old woman after a botched abortion, but the chances of saving her were slim because of the severe harm she had suffered.
Her uterus was ruptured and septic. She had lost a lot of blood. Her swollen abdomen was full of fluids that had seeped in through the holes in her uterus.
“Her whole abdomen was full of necrotic (dead) cells,” obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Vusumuzi Hlongwa told a Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) committee hearing on Thursday.
The woman may not be identified.
“Patients who present with such severe sepsis usually die, which is why the law limits the age of a termination of abortion. It is to avoid such cases and to prevent deaths.”
The committee is hearing the case of Dr Melusi Amod, who performed an abortion on the woman in June 2010. The woman died a month later of complications. Amod faces charges of illegally performing the late-stage abortion, failing to assess the size and position of the uterus, and not preparing the cervix.
The woman’s mother testified about the events on June 19 when she rushed her daughter back to the doctor’s rooms after a night of pain.
The man they knew as Dr Khumalo had given her tablets to terminate the pregnancy the day before, but the foetus had not been aborted.
At the surgery the doctor prepared to manually extract the foetus. He started to prod inside the woman.
Breaking down while giving evidence, the mother said: “He used such force that I got emotional and concerned, and asked if this was how it was done.”
Amod told her to leave the room, but when she heard her daughter’s cries of pain she returned. “I watched him making stabbing actions… then he showed me a theatre dish full of pieces of flesh.”
He told her he was done, and after the mother cleaned her daughter up, they left. But after a number of difficult nights she was taken to Hlongwa’s rooms, where she was immediately admitted.
“She had had a mid-trimester abortion, of between 20 and 22 weeks, and she was acutely sick,” said Hlongwa. After trying to get hold of Dr Khumalo, and failing, Hlongwa decided to take the woman into theatre. She was operated on the same day. Her uterus and ovaries were removed to halt the infection, but her condition deteriorated.
She died on July 13.
Amod has has also been known as Dr Mokoena. Hlongwa said senior specialists in obstetrics and gynaecology tried to save the womnan, “but we were not lucky”.