The KwaZulu-Natal health department has welcomed an SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) probe into complaints about its decision to stop operating two radiotherapy machines at Addington Hospital in Durban.

Durban - A Chatsworth man who had his fingers partially severed in a recycling shredding machine had to wait three days before being taken to theatre at Addington Hospital.

It is feared the delay will result in Sugendran Pillay, 29, never regaining the full use of his hand.

Pillay was taken to Addington Hospital on Wednesday after three fingers on his right hand were partially severed. His hands had been caught in a shredder at the Springfield Park recycling plant where he works. His left hand was also injured.

His father, Kuben Pillay, said the hospital’s trauma unit staff had described his son’s condition as “very, very serious” when he had been brought in.

“The fingers were hanging by a thread,” he said.

“The trauma doctor said several of his tendons had been severed. He said he needed an emergency operation to try to save the fingers from being amputated.”

Pillay said the wound was cleaned and bandaged and his son was transferred to a ward.

“In the ward, the nurse said he could not have anything to eat or drink because he was going to theatre. They just gave him an injection to help with the pain.”

Pillay said more than 24 hours had passed and his son had not yet been taken for surgery.

“By Thursday evening he was in agonising pain and starving. I spoke to the staff on duty and they said that only one of the four theatres was in operation.

“I was told the air-conditioning was not working in the other theatres. The nurse said emergency cases were being prioritised. I told her my son’s condition was serious; I even suggested they transfer him to another hospital, but they refused.”

Pillay said on Friday afternoon he confronted a matron at the hospital.

“She too told me that only emergency cases were being attended to in theatre. She told me there was nothing she could do and told me to phone the head of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, Dr Sibongile Zungu.”

He tried the number she gave him, but could not get hold of her. He said he was concerned that his son’s condition would deteriorate.

“Sugendran could not bear the pain. There were also concerns that the delay could have cost him the full use of his right hand.”

He said his son was only taken to theatre on Saturday.

“The operation took more than four hours. Sugendran is recovering, but it is still too early to tell if he will be able to use his fingers again. He says he has little or no feeling in his right hand.”

“It was very upsetting to see him in pain. The lack of treatment at the hospital was shocking,” Pillay said. “My son was not the only one. There were others in a similar situation. I just pray that he heals fully.”

Zungu said she could not understand the delay in attending to Pillay.

“To my knowledge the issues of stocks and the theatres have been resolved. In my view this once again comes down to poor attitudes by ward managers,” she said.

“All hospitals have problems, but managers rally to find a solution. It is our duty to put patients first – their rights are always our priorities,” said Zungu. “Unfortunately, it is difficult to manage human beings. They all believe their rights come first.”

“Staff should not be handing out my number. They are supposed to be trained experts,” she said.

“I will get to the bottom of this and promise to set an example.” - Daily News