“You should be happy we saved your life”.
That is what Elsie Ramagaga was told by officials at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital during a meeting on Thursday to discuss the physical and emotional scars she was left with after an alleged botched surgery.
Ramagaga, from Naledi in Soweto, was admitted to the hospital on December 14, 2012 for an elective caesarean section.
On December 17, she went into labour.
Post-labour, Ramagaga complained to nurses of a pain in her chest and difficulty breathing. She was rushed to the high care unit and thereafter the ICU.
Ramagaga said doctors told her her baby’s umbilical cord had been left in her abdomen, leading to a bacterial infection.
Numerous operations and a skin graft later, her abdomen is severely disfigured and appears to be divided in three. She has since developed tuberculosis of the spine and has to use a colostomy bag.
She spent months in hospital recovering from the operations and couldn’t enjoy the early months of her baby girl’s life.
She accuses the hospital of being negligent during her surgery after her C-section, alleging doctors used unsterilised instruments that led to the infection.
Ramagaga’s original hospital record, which was in her possession and seen by The Star, stated: “Cord found floating in abdominal cavity, uterus ruptured, baby delivered through rupture.”
“They (hospital officials) took me to a gynaecologist (on Thursday) and I’m not sure what he found, but I was given pills and cream. They said my womb had caused the infection.
“They said I should be happy they saved my life and not focus on other things,” Ramagaga said.
She continued: “My father asked them if they’d be happy if their daughters went through this and looked like this.”
Two weeks after The Star sent through queries to the hospital, it is yet to answer the questions put to them.
On Wednesday, hospital chief executive Dr Sandile Mfenyana sent through a response detailing Ramagaga’s vital signs and the wards she was transferred to.
He promised to get back to the The Star on Thursday with a full response to the paper’s queries, but the response related only to Thursday’s proceedings, failing to answer the questions sent earlier.
The hospital’s communication manager, Nkosiyethu Mazibuko, said: “This morning (on Thursday), hospital management met with the patient and discussed her condition as well as treatment she has been receiving at the hospital.”
He continued: “She was offered counselling to help her deal with the trauma and the service was also extended to other members of the family who are affected.”
Mazibuko said that after the meeting, Ramagaga had a medical assessment and the hospital would continue to provide multi-disciplinary clinical observation.
Ramagaga said she was far from satisfied with the outcome.
“They said they wanted to book me in to operate on me, and I said I wasn’t ready. It’s still hard dealing with the trauma I went through… I’m not ready, I’m still bonding with my daughter, she barely knows me because I’ve been in and out of hospital,” she said.
Ramagaga added that she and her family were considering obtaining legal advice.