Johannesburg - Three weeks after the Gauteng North High court ordered that a 12-year-old Somali girl be placed on a waiting list for heart surgery, she is still waiting for the operation.

There are 43 other children requiring similar surgery at Steve Biko Academic Hospital and the girl’s family is worried she may die while on the waiting list.

The girl, who cannot be named because she is a minor, approached the North Gauteng High Court three weeks ago through her brother and the Lawyers for Human Rights.

She had made a perilous 4 000km journey from war-torn Somalia to find her brother and seek safety in South Africa. When she arrived she collapsed and was rushed to the Kalafong Hospital in Atteridgeville where doctors diagnosed a heart condition.

They told the girl’s brother they could not operate on her and transferred her to Steve Biko Academic.

There, the family said, she was refused admission unless she produced the necessary documentation or paid a R250 000 deposit. She was sent back to Kalafong where she only received oxygen until Lawyers for Human Rights intervened and took Steve Biko Hospital to court.

Steve Biko chief executive Dr Ernest Kenoshi said the hospital was taking care of the girl. “The operation will be done when she is ready. At the moment she is still not stable and it would be risky to do it. There is also a waiting list with 43 other children like her.”

The hospital denied they wanted money before they would operate.

Lawyers for Human Rights’ Patricia Erasmus said: “The family is happy that she is now receiving the correct care at Steve Biko, but they are also worried that she might die before the operation. She is not stable enough to go through surgery but she is also far down on the waiting list. She is still fragile.”

Her cousin said: “She is doing so much better, but we are worried that if the operation is not done quickly, we might lose her.”

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Pretoria News