A woman with elephantiasis has laid a complaint against a hospital after she was turned away from without treatment.

A 37-year-old woman with elephantiasis has laid a complaint against the Livingstone hospital in Port Elizabeth after she was turned away without treatment, the Eastern Cape health department said on Monday.

“She alleges that one doctor allegedly told her to go to the casualty area where she waited for hours and realising that she was not getting any help she then broke down and cried,” said department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo.

He said the woman claimed her she had open wounds and was in extreme pain as the result of the disease.

The woman – who visited the hospital on February 13 – said the doctors only looked through her file and then told her to go home to a clinic near her home just outside Port Elizabeth.

She then asked for an ambulance to take her home as she was finding it difficult to walk but was told by ambulance personnel in casualty that she would have to pay R200 for a lift.

“She refused this and said she would rather get a private taxi to take her home.”

Without any treatment, the woman further alleged, her open wounds attracted flesh-eating maggots and she decided to visit a traditional healer.

Kupelo said the department had been in contact with the hospital's CEO Thulani Madonsela, who was investigating the incident and in particular the doctors and nurses who had been involved. He would also be studying the woman's medical records.

Kupelo said that, according to the woman, she had been diagnosed with elephantiasis in 2006. However she had not requested any treatment until she was admitted to Livingstone hospital in January this year.

“She alleges on discharge she was not prescribed treatment. She says the pain is unbearable, she is bed-ridden, she cannot even use the wheelchair provided to her because she cannot (because of the disease) fit anymore.

Kupelo said the department was also going to take the matter further and try to help the woman with medical assistance.

Elephantiasis is a disease that affects the skin and tissue and is caused by parasitic worms. – Sapa