Cape Town -
A Delft mother has accused doctors at Khayelitsha Hospital of negligence and insensitivity after her newborn baby was cut during birth, and she was only later told he was dying from heart failure.
Vuyiseka Tekwana says not only was her son, Liphiwe, cut in the eyelid during C-section delivery - putting him at risk of HIV infection as she is HIV-positive - but doctors at that hospital were also insensitive when they casually told her to rush to Groote Schuur to be with her baby as his life-support machine was being switched off.
He died on his way to Delft community health centre last Friday, exactly a week after he was born, because of a congenital heart anomaly.
Tekwana said Liphiwe had been transferred to Groote Schuur a few hours after his birth when Khayelitsha doctors noticed he had a low pulse.
She claimed Khayelitsha doctors had never told her about the cut. A nurse spotted the continuous bleeding, leaving her with no choice but to take him back to theatre.
Sithembiso Magubane, spokesman for the provincial Department of Health, confirmed that Liphiwe had a superficial laceration to his eyelid after a forceps delivery. He attributed the cut to a difficult C-section.
Tekwana said she still had not been told of her baby’s heart problem when a Khayelitsha doctor instructed her to rush to Groote Schuur Hospital to see her baby before his life support machines were switched off.
“I was still thinking about the laceration in his eye and had questions why doctors didn’t tell me when one doctor came to me, a day after I gave birth, to tell me that I need to rush to Groote Schuur to be with my baby before his life support was switched off. I was dumbstruck… I didn’t even know what was wrong with him because doctors hadn’t told me anything after his transfer. The only thing I knew was that he was lacerated and he had a low pulse. Now he was dying. I thought: ‘How insensitive.’ The way he told me was just too casual.”
Magubane said the cut had no effect on his deteriorating health.
“He was ventilated and transferred to Groote Schuur Hospital neonatal ICU for further management,” he said.
Tekwana said while she did not object to the findings, the case was handled in a “somewhat unprofessional and insensitive” way.
She said she only received counselling at Groote Schuur where it was explained for the first time what was wrong with Liphiwe.
“The professor that talked to us explained that Liphiwe won’t live as his heart was in the wrong position and had very small arteries. He said doctors couldn’t fix it,” she said.
He was referred back to Khayelitsha Hospital where he could be kept comfortable until he died. But Tekwana said it was back at that hospital that she felt left out in the cold.
“I was constantly told that my baby wouldn’t make it… it got too much that when they gave me an option to take the baby home I said yes. I felt bad taking a sick baby home, but I couldn’t stand the pain I felt at that hospital.”
Magubane said it was Tekwana who asked to go home. He denied that Khayelitsha doctors were not sensitive. He said she was counselled at both hospitals and a psychology appointment was made.