Mosibudi Mangena. Photo: Terry Haywood

Mashaole Mangena, the 74-year-old brother of a former minister of science and technology, died after a seven-week to-ing and fro-ing to the Polokwane Hospital to get treatment for a blockage of the bile duct.

Now his family is seeking answers from health authorities as to why the seemingly preventable death occurred.

In an opinion piece written for The Star, Mosibudi Mangena lays bare the facts surrounding his brother’s death in an ambulance on the N1 heading towards George Mukhari Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa.

In it he describes the lengths he went to to get help, even trying to use his political connections to speak to the minister of health directly.

“As we leave the hospital, the minister of health returns my call, some 48 hours later. He had been snowed under. He is dismayed and saddened by the Mashaole story and frankly admits that it is not the only one,” Mangena writes.

Events leading to Mashaole’s death

* April 15 he develops jaundice and a doctor refers him to Polokwane Provincial Hospital.

* He undergoes ultrasound, urine and blood tests of various specifications, as well asX-rays.

* Early last month, doctors diagnose gall stones blocking the flow of bile.

* Doctor orders him to come back to hospital on June 4 –a date that is roughly four weeks away.

* Mashaole’s condition deteriorates.

* Private doctor expresses shock at the fact that Mashaole is not admitted to hospital.

* He prescribes medication to alleviate some of the symptoms, but says he needs urgent surgery.

* Private surgeon phones the provincial hospital to have what they call ERCP procedure done to remove the offending gall stones.

* The surgeon is told that the equipment to perform the procedure has been out of order since February. There is no such equipment in Limpopo.

* Procedure can be done in Pretoria but a referral letter is needed. It is Friday, May 25.

* On Monday morning May 28, an ambulance takes Mashaole to Polokwane Hospital.

* He is admitted at 10.30pm, by which time he can hardly move.

* On Wednesday, Mashaole is lying in a general ward, very weak. He should be in a surgical ward. Doctors agree that he requires urgent intervention.

Nothing is done by Thursday.

* Calls are made to the MEC for health in Limpopo and the minister of health.

* Friday morning, June 1. Several doctors huddle over Mashaole’s medical records at his bed. The hospital CEO indicates that the MEC has ordered that Mashaole be transferred to George Mukhari Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa.

* A few hours later, a paramedic takes the phone and explains that Mashaole has died on the N1.

The Star