Burke shows his amputated leg.Picture Zanele Zulu,22/11/2012

Durban - Dean Burke desperately needs an operation to save his leg – and his life – but broken air conditioners at Addington Hospital have resulted in several postponements.

Umbilo resident Burke, 45, is the sole bread winner for his wife, Antoinette, and two children but his hopes of getting better after a foot injury were dashed when he arrived for an operation last week only to be told to come back in February.

Burke, who is diabetic, injured his foot when he stepped on rotten wooden floorboards last year, and after gangrene set in, had operations at Addington Hospital to remove his toes and right foot.

Antoinette Burke said hospital staff had told her the theatres had not been working for the past six months because the air conditioners were broken.

“I am worried he is going to lose his other leg as well now. He is stressing so much that his sugar is up, and he is bloating so much that he can’t even sit in the wheelchair any more.”

Addington came under fire a few months ago when what was described in media reports as “filthy chaos” and broken airconditioners caused delays with operations. However, while the department responded this week to Burke’s concerns, it did not comment on the state of the theatre air conditioning.

Siegie Fitzjohn, a friend who is a private nurse, examined Burke’s wound in June and cleaned his stump wound, and told him that it looked like the wound was infected and that he should go to hospital.

“I was worried about him, so I sent him to hospital.”

Burke went to Addington. “I waited at casualty the whole day and the whole night until the early hours of the morning, but they never closed my wound. It was dripping on the floor,” Burke said.

He said the next day he was booked for theatre, but a doctor decided to rather attend to the wound in the ward.

However, a few days later he was in excruciating pain and went to see a doctor. An ultrasound and an X-ray was taken and the doctor told him there was “charcoal” (gangrene) in his leg. He had another operation to cut off more of his leg.

However, he said after going for further check-ups where doctors found lingering evidence of gangrene he was told his leg would be amputated on November 13. He was booked, but discharged on the same day without having the operation.

“They said the air conditioner is broken and there is no bedding and equipment for operations and it is high risk,” Burke said. “They gave me no medication and told me my operation was now in April next year,” Burke said.

However, he was later told it would be on December 3 and then it was postponed again this week until May 2013.

KZN Health Department spokesman Desmond Motha said Burke would be called back to Addington next week for the wound to be examined.

“The patient was seen by a doctor and a dressing was made for his wound, but if he feels there is something more that we needed to do we will meet him. We don’t dictate to the doctors. The doctors are competent, but sometimes the patients want something else done,” Motha said.