Damages for first-time mother who lost uterus in Caesarean

A first-time mother has blamed the medical staff at George Mukhari Academic Hospital of being negligent.

A first-time mother has blamed the medical staff at George Mukhari Academic Hospital of being negligent.

Published Jun 24, 2024


A first-time time mother who was healthy when she went to a sate hospital to deliver her baby, but came out of a caesarean section minus her uterus, thus not being able to have any more children, has sued the Gauteng MEC for Health for damages.

The woman told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that she was admitted to the George Mukhari Academic Hospital in 2016 to give birth. As she started bleeding while having a caesarean section, her uterus was removed at the same time.

According to the mother she entered the hospital as a healthy woman and she had no idea what led to her uterus being removed. She complained that she was never told about this prior to the operation, nor did the hospital offer her any counselling afterwards.

While she blamed the medical staff of being negligent, which led to her ordeal, the doctors told the court that it was a life threatening situation and they had no other option than to perform the emergency operation, removing her uterus.

According to the doctors, they had to do this in order to save her life. Regarding the fact that they did not counsel her afterwards, the court was told that as the patient had discharged herself, they did not get around to counselling her.

The mother, who was 25 at the time, said she first went to a clinic when her water broke. She was referred to the hospital as the nurses at the clinic suspected that the fetus was in distress.

The mother said she had to wait for hours at the hospital before anyone bothered to attend to her. Once she was examined, it took 16 hours before the caesarean section was done.

The woman said she was taken to the theatre earlier for the caesarean section, but no operation took place and she was taken back to the ward. She was told that there was no doctor available to do the procedure.

She was taken back to the theatre some hours later and given three injections. According to her she only woke up two days later in the intensive care unit.

She testified that a professor and his team then examined her and he asked her how many children she wanted. She told him three and he told her unfortunately she would never be able to have more children.

He told her that once she was out of ICU, it would be explained why her uterus was removed. The woman said this was, however, never explained to her.

She also told the court that a student doctor later told her “please forgive us” and other nurses, who read her medical file, kept on saying “sorry” to her.

She was in tears all the time and depressed and could hardly attend to her newborn baby next to her. The professor promised to obtain counselling for her, but the woman said after seven days of nothing happening, she decided to discharge herself from the hospital.

After a year she got a telephone call out of the blue from a doctor, who was conducting research in writing an article about her case. He told her he read her medical file and she subsequently approached an attorney to institute a claim against the health authorities.

It was testified on behalf of the hospital that they did their best to attend to patients. The only reason they could think of that there was no doctor to perform the caesarean section earlier, was because there may have been more pressing cases to attend to.

One of the doctors who attended to her, testified that the removal of the uterus could have occurred because the patient had developed an infection, or “it could have been a mistake.”

Due to the time lapse and the hospital records not being available, “once cannot know for sure”, the court was told.

In finding the hospital to be negligent, the court said the hospital falls within the category of having properly trained doctors and nurses, medical equipment and a 24-hour theatre to conduct procedures.

It is also a training hospital and the decision to perform a caesarean until the procedure is performed, should not take more than an hour. However, after she was first taken for the procedure, it was delayed for another 10 hours.

The court said the mother was healthy when she went to hospital and had no problems with her uterus.

The MEC was held liable for 100% of the damages the mother could prove that she had suffered as a result of her ordeal.

Pretoria News