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Deaf woman ‘butchered’ in hospital

17/09/2014. An operation to remove her hemorrhoids four years ago left this Mamelodi pensioner with a colostomy for two years, and this painful debilitating hernia since that was closed. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

17/09/2014. An operation to remove her hemorrhoids four years ago left this Mamelodi pensioner with a colostomy for two years, and this painful debilitating hernia since that was closed. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

Published Sep 22, 2014

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Pretoria - When Salome Skosana went under the knife to remove haemorrhoids four years ago little did she know that she’d be left with four years of debilitating pain and discomfort. Two years would be spent carrying a stoma bag, and two more with a growing hernia.

The huge lump on the left side of her stomach is extremely painful, and it has stopped her from carrying out any domestic chores or economic activity.

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It also weighs heavily on her side and has altered her walk, and changed her eating and sitting habits: “What a price to pay for having piles,” she told Pretoria News.

Skosana’s “journey of hell”, as she describes it, began in 2010 at the hands of specialists at Steve Biko Academic Hospital. They removed the piles and discharged her with a stoma bag attached to the colostomy incision on the left side of her stomach.

“I came back two months later, as instructed. They pronounced the site of the haemorrhoids completely healed but did not close me up and remove the bag. Instead I was sent from pillar to post for two years before they operated on me again,” Skosana said.

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In that two-year period she made repeated visits to the hospital and several attempts to see the head of department, under whose instruction the procedures had been done.

All were in vain, she said.

She spent days sitting outside his office hoping to see him, and a few times he walked past her. “When he saw me he would hurry past and look away, ignoring me completely.”

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The operation to close the colostomy was eventually done 27 months after the initial operation. And a few days after that she was discharged but the hernia appeared on her left side - and in two years it has grown more than four times in size.

She went back to the hospital, and during meetings with other doctors she was told the incision was too wide and too deep.

In written communication between her and some medical officers, she was told her chances of survival grew slimmer by the day, but they could not help. Closure of the incision had to be done by the doctors who had initially opened it.

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One note – a request sent to the head of department by another doctor - says he does not understand why Skosana has not been seen by the doctor, and urges immediate surgery to rid her of the inconvenient lump.

Skosana is deaf, therefore she has a lot of written communication with doctors. In one note she is told of a defect in her abdominal wall, while in another she is informed that her intestines were pushing out, making it “bigger, thus needing to be closed”.

Another doctor, from Mamelodi hospital from where she had been referred to Steve Biko, writes: “I am sorry, I cannot operate on such a big hernia, it is too risky.”

The doctor promises to push Steve Biko to operate on her.

“But they never did, he never did either,” she said.

“I have lost all hope, no one is willing to help me because I am deaf,” she says.

She carries the hernia with difficulty and pain, and she has been unable to knit the jerseys she sold to generate an income.

“I cannot sit in front of my sewing machines because of pain and discomfort,” the pensioner said.

While the Health Department was unable to talk about the case, Steve Biko Hospital chief executive Dr Ernest Kenoshi, said he had handed Skosana’s matter to the clinical department of surgery.

“They will contact Ms Skosana and arrange that she be brought in for review.

“Subsequent to this, the surgeons will manage her clinical condition in the best way possible,” he said.

“They butchered me four years ago and did nothing despite repeated requests.

“Why would that change now,” Skosana asked.

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Pretoria News

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