‘They could’ve saved my brother’s foot’
Share this article:
Durban - Eleven emergency operations were performed through the night at Pretoria’s Steve Biko Hospital on survivors of the Nigerian church collapse who arrived home on board a rescue flight on Monday.
Among those wheeled into theatre was Durban businessman, Daniel Chetty, 48, whose foot was amputated on Monday night.
Monday night’s surgery schedule was confirmed by an official with the Department of Social Development, Margot Davids. It is understood some of the operations stretched to on Tuesday morning.
Chetty’s surgery was unexpected, as he had told the Daily News from his hospital bed in Nigeria last week that he was “fine and able to walk” - just a day after being taken to hospital there.
In a telephone call to his sister, Morningside resident, Diane Chetty, he described his condition last week as “good” and asked the family not to worry.
Doctors in Lagos have since said Chetty had been confused and not aware of the extent of his injuries at the time, because they did not inform him for fear it might have worsened his state of depression.
News of Chetty’s amputation was met with disbelief by his sister, who left for Pretoria on Tuesday morning with other relatives to be at his side.
“I heard the minister say one patient needed to have his foot amputated and I was hoping it was not my brother, but deep down I had a feeling it was him,” an emotional Diane told the Daily News as she fought back the tears.
“This is all very difficult to deal with and I could not even bring myself to tell his wife the news because I just don’t know how to relay something like this to her. But Daniel would have called her by now to let her know.”
She added that a family friend who had gone to Steve Biko Hospital on Monday afternoon in the hope of seeing Daniel had been turned away by a hospital official.
“The friend was told that nobody except health workers were being allowed into the hospital as they were still assessing the Ebola risks of all patients from Nigeria,” she said.
And while officials would not provide further information on the operations because of patient confidentiality, Diane has hit out at the lack of timeous medical intervention in Nigeria.
“I was told that gangrene had set in when he was at the hospital in Nigeria and I’m very upset because I just feel that had he received immediate medical attention his foot could have been saved.
“People were not rescued immediately and that made it worse,” Chetty said.
She said the family did not want to meet the leader of the collapsed church building, televangelist TB Joshua, who plans to visit South Africa, the victims and their families.
“We have no intention of speaking to or meeting him and don’t even want to think about his visit to South Africa. Our only concern is the well-being of Daniel.”
The gravity of Chetty’s condition was picked up by a South African doctor at Broad Hospital in Lagos where most of the injured were taken after the disaster.
Diane said Chetty contacted his wife last Thursday, saying that the doctor had visited him and advised him of its seriousness.
“My sister-in-law called me to say that Daniel was pleading to be taken out of Nigeria because the South African doctor told him he needed to have his foot amputated and suggested he be flown to South Africa for urgent medical care.”
The Nigerian doctor who initially described Chetty’s condition as “fine and not serious” to the Daily News, said he had been given instructions by officials from the Church of All Nations, owners of the collapsed building, not to divulge information about the extent of Chetty’s injuries to the media.
“Of course when we saw the extent of Daniel’s injuries as he was brought into the hospital, we could immediately see that gangrene had already set in because of the many hours of exposure in the collapsed building,” explained Dr Paul Akintelure, a doctor who was among the first to receive patients at Broad Hospital.
“His wounds were fresh and we contemplated surgery immediately and even had an orthopaedic surgeon ready to carry out the procedure.
However, we were advised not to do so as it was a very sensitive matter and Daniel was in a very confused state.
KwaZulu-Natal health department head, Dr Sibongile Zungu, said the province was on standby to receive any of the 25 injured South Africans flown to Air Force Base Swartkop, Pretoria, on Monday.
Patients transferred from Steve Biko Academic Hospital would taken to appropriate hospitals, she said.