What is worse, Nomvula Mapitse said, was that it was not the first time the doctors were negligent when treating her as they had also allegedly left cottonwool and had failed to remove the placenta when she delivered her baby through a caesarean section.
The hospital has, however, denied all the allegations.
The 28-year-old woman from Lawley, south of Johannesburg, said her ordeal started on March 21 when her waters broke at seven months pregnancy.
“I suffer from bipolar disorder, and when I arrived at the hospital, a doctor said I would have to go for a C-section to deliver the baby because I would experience seizures during birth and it could be dangerous for me and the baby.”
She underwent a C-section the following day and it went well.
She was discharged three days later, but her baby left the hospital only after eight days.
On April 1, however, she was in pain and her wound was oozing pus. She was referred to the hospital.
“Doctors found that the placenta had not been removed and they had forgotten a piece of cotton wool inside me,” Mapitse said.
She said it was removed but not shown to her.
“I was told to come back after 10 days to remove the stitches. My stitches were not properly closed and there was a gaping hole on one side.
“On April 8, I was pressed, but when I went to the toilet I could not pee properly.
“I could feel that there was something blocking my urine. My mother helped me look at what could be wrong and a piece of gauze came out,” Mapitse said.
Out of shock and fear, she went to the Lawley Clinic, a different facility to the one that had initially referred her to Bara.
Her angry mother, Dieniso, said she was shocked when the swab came out when her daughter attempted to pass urine.
“I fear that if my daughter goes for another operation, they will either kill her or she will be left paralysed,” she said.
After The Star sent a media enquiry to the hospital, they requested that Mapitse “come in for assessment”.
She was sent for an X-ray, ultrasound and CT-scan. She also met with a doctor and managers of the gynaecology department, where the issues she raised were discussed. The Star was granted permission to sit in.
In the meeting, the hospital denied that small abdominal swabs were used during the second operation. However, Mapitse’s file showed some lines that were deleted. The hospital management could not give an explanation for that.
The record also showed that 15 large swabs had been used as well.
Hospital spokesperson Nkosiyethu Mazibuko confirmed that Mapitse was readmitted to the hospital but that it was after her wound “developed some infection”.
“This (first) operation was for cleaning of the infected tissue so that healing is improved. There was, however, no cotton in her abdomen and no retained placenta.
“She came (back) later for her wound assessment and further dressing. The doctors were not aware of any gauze left in the patient,” Mazibuko said.
He said Mapitse was assessed and the X-ray, ultrasound and CT-scan “excluded the presence of a swab or any object inside the patient.
“There is currently no reason to operate on the patient again,” Mazibuko said.
Mapitse and her mother returned to the hospital again last week for her CT-scan report but claim they were told that the hospital file and copies had gone missing.
“We were told that the doctor we met with last week was hijacked and the original file was in her car. The copy of the file has also mysteriously disappeared,” Dieniso said.
Though Mazibuko confirmed that the doctor was hijacked, he said the family were not told anything about the files having gone missing.