Ziyanda Mncono can’t mask her pain as she recalls how her daughter, 3, suffered brain damage as a result of alleged negligence at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital. She claims nurses were slow to respond to the crisis at the time, after she choked on her vomit, the mother said. Picture: Dimpho Maja/ANA

Johannesburg - A devastated mother has accused a Joburg hospital of not reacting fast enough to assist her vomiting child, who ended up choking on it and is now brain damaged.

Ziyanda Mncono’s three-year-old daughter, Abiyola Mncono, suffered debilitating brain injuries allegedly due to the negligence of nurses and other medical staff at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Joburg.

As she was choking on her vomit, the loss of oxygen caused Abiyola to develop hypoxia – or excruciating brain injuries – which according to her mother has caused irreparable damage.

“In fact, she lost her life – she might be alive, but she has lost her life,” a distraught Mncono told The Star.

Mncono said that in January last year, she noticed that her daughter was struggling to breathe and took her to a hospital in Ekurhuleni.

There, Mncono added, Abiyola was examined and referred to Charlotte Maxeke, where croup – a virus that causes airways to swell – was suspected.

At Charlotte Maxeke, Abiyola was given medication for the croup and told to return for surgery to fix her intestines, which were abnormal.

The surgery was successful and Mncono said she visited her daughter, bathed her and watched movies with her, until the child’s father arrived.

Three-year-old Abiyola Picture: Supplied

Hospital rules don’t allow both parents to be in the ward before a certain time, Mncono said, so she left the ward and went to the canteen.

“When I came back, the ward was a mess and my baby was not there. Her father was in a corner crying and I wanted to know what had happened. Then a nurse informed me that they did the best they could for Abi, before she rushed out of the ward.

“I found out that Abi was in ICU,” she said, tears streaming down her face.

While Mncono was in the canteen, Abiyola apparently vomited profusely in her father’s presence. The father and other parents called for help, but the nurses were allegedly slow to respond to the crisis.

Abiyola suffocated in her own vomit. She came out of a coma in March and was discharged in May. Abiyola had to have a tracheostomy, so that she could breathe through her throat, and has to be fed with a syringe.

“Abiyola feeds with a feeding pack. The syringes I use to feed her are R16, and they only last four days. The food she has to eat has to be processed in a certain way.
“She also uses a big bib for the tracheostomy because she is forever wet – I have to change her clothes at least five times a day,” Mncono said.

The mother added that it costs about R800 a week to take care of her daughter, but she survives on a R1 600 disability grant.

Abiyola now needs constant care. Picture: Supplied

She lost her job at DSV Mounties, allegedly for attending daily to her daughter. She sold her car to care for her child, lost her home and has had to move back to the Eastern Cape to live with her mother.

At the time of the incident, Mncono and the child’s father had broken up, and she said he isn't contributing towards the child and that she’s bearing the brunt of the costs herself.

Barbara Matthee, regional director at DSV, said Mncono was dismissed after a disciplinary hearing found that she was lying about being at her daughter’s side “24/7”.
Lesemang Matuka, Gauteng Health Department spokesperson, said disciplinary measures were taken against the nurses assigned to that ward, without specifying what these measures were.

A letter seen by The Star and signed by Dr Patricia Africa, the hospital’s clinical manager for quality, said the department would “provide the necessary support” for Mncono towards the care of her daughter.

Matuka couldn’t give time-frames or say what this support would entail. But she did say Abiyola was receiving rehabilitation therapy at the hospital. 
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