Durban - A Westville woman, left confined to a wheelchair after a back operation, is suing a prominent Durban surgeon for almost R20 million.

All Nazli Hassan, 49, wanted was to get rid of a niggling pain in her right shoulder. Instead, she lost all sensation in her body from the chest down after undergoing surgery for an anterior cervical discetomy and fusion (spinal surgery).

She’s now suing Dr Sameer Nadvi, president of the Society of Neurosurgeons of SA, for R19.9 million, claiming he was negligent, and is the reason why she “will never walk again”.

Hassan’s persistent pain in her right shoulder, which extended down to her right hand, led to her seeking medical advice. Spinal surgery was recommended, and Hassan was operated on by Nadvi at St Augustine’s Hospital in 2009.

“I was assured that the surgery would be a straightforward procedure, but little did I know that a simple pain in my hand would cause a perfectly normal and active woman to never walk again.”

According to a combined summons filed in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court, during the operation Hassan sustained brain-spinal fluid leak, acute spinal shock and a traumatic injury to the spinal chord.

“I was promised that two weeks after the operation I would walk again. But months went by and I still couldn’t feel my legs. I wanted answers from Dr Nadvi, but received no joy from him.”

Her lawyer, Tamlyn Leigh Melville, said action was instituted against Nadvi on various grounds of negligence, which were based on the opinions of two independent neurosurgeons and a professor of spinal and orthopaedic surgery.

“We applied for a trial date in the KZN High Court as far back as November 2011. We are still awaiting allocation.”

It has been five years since she had the operation, and Hassan is still in a wheelchair. Her medical bills have also placed financial strain on her family.

She was a successful home industry businesswoman before the surgery.

“I drove around doing my own deliveries. I was very involved in the community, and now I have lost everything.”

Her infuriated husband, who did not want to be named, said her paralysis had changed their lives for ever and destroyed their family.

“All I want now is justice for what has been done. Dr Nadvi has shown no remorse to our family at all, and that angers me. I can no longer call Nazli my wife. She is now like my child.”

Hassan said she had survived her ordeal only through God’s help.

“Even though every day is an uphill battle, prayer kept me going. It took five years for me to find the answers. I had to eventually go out of the province to seek advice from experts in Cape Town. Despite this, we are still waiting for a court date.”

Nadvi’s lawyer, Suzette van der Merwe, denied her client had been negligent, and said she was in the final stages of working out a settlement for Hassan.

“Doctor Nadvi’s insurance has agreed to cover the reasonable medical costs of her treatment, without prejudice… The complication… being bleeding after spinal surgery, can happen even in the best of hands,” she said.

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Sunday Tribune