Durban22012013 Niece Anshia Smith comforts Thelma Stoffel.Picture:Marilyn Bernard

Durban - Weeks

after the birth of her third child, Debora Tatchell was scheduled to undergo a routine ligation procedure at Wentworth Hospital, but experienced organ failure soon after being anaesthetised.

The 34-year-old Wentworth woman was taken to King Edward VIII Hospital, where she slipped into a coma. A few days later, she was dead.

All her family now want is closure in the form of answers from the hospital about what caused Tatchell’s death.

“All we know is that her death certificate states Debora’s death was unnatural,” said Tatchell’s cousin, Anshia Smith.

She said Tatchell gave birth to a boy in December, and on January 14 she was scheduled to undergo a tubal ligation procedure, which prevents a woman from becoming pregnant.

“She was admitted on the Monday but was told she had to stay overnight and that the operation would be done in the morning,” explained Tatchell’s mother, Thelma Stoffel.

“The next morning I received a call from her husband, who was in tears


Tatchell was her only child.

Smith, who was at the hospital that Tuesday, said her cousin was anaesthetised and then a lung collapsed.

“All we were told was that there were complications. Paramedics were called and she was rushed to King Edward VIII Hospital because Wentworth didn’t have the necessary equipment. Debora looked pale and her lips were purple,” said Smith.

At King Edward VIII Hospital, Smith said, the other lung collapsed and she slipped into a coma.

“The doctors at King Edward Hospital said Debora was brought in in a state. By mid-week, we felt hopeful because the colour had returned to her face. She was on a drip and doctors said she was responding to treatment.

“However, she developed a kidney infection and was undergoing dialysis treatment. On Saturday (January 19), we received the news that she had died.”

Smith said the doctors had detected that a valve in her heart was closing and that there was not enough oxygen.

Tatchell had previously complained of chest pains and was apparently treated at Wentworth Hospital for pneumonia and bronchitis.

“The doctors at King Edward Hospital were shocked to learn she gave birth naturally,” said Smith.


post-mortem examination was conducted on January 24, but Smith said they did not know the outcome.

Tatchell’s funeral was held a week after her death.

The family laid a complaint with the police in Umbilo and said they had also complained to the hospital.

Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, confirmed that a case, as well as an inquest docket, had been opened and that police were investigating.

Wentworth Hospital spokeswoman, Carol Dlamini, responding last week to a request for comment made on January 30, said the hospital had sent its response to the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.

On Monday, department spokesman Samuel Mkhwanazi said that because the matter had been reported to the police, the hospital could not comment.

“Once it’s a police matter, it needs to be dealt with by the police and procedure would need to be followed,” he said.

Mkhwanazi recommended that the family lay a formal complaint with the hospital.

Dlamini said she would contact the family to arrange a meeting so the matter could be resolved.

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