TINY Makyla Kruger lived for just one day – an excruciating day when she, her mother Marelies, and doctors fought for her to live.
Makyla is among the many babies who are not given a fighting chance to survive because of a lack of critical equipment at state hospitals.
Marelies, 27 at the time, only held her daughter for the briefest of moments before she died. She weighed 2.4 kg.
“For one day I was a single mom. I lost my baby daughter a day after her birth. My heart is broken. She was my only child.”
Marelies worked through her pregnancy to make sure she could afford everything the baby needed. In the end she only needed a pair of white winter pyjamas, slightly too big, that her daughter wore on the day she was cremated.
“When the time came for her to be born, I went to the clinic at Provincial Hospital. It was Sunday, November 11 2012. I was in labour until midnight. Then the nurse told me I was not dilated enough. They put me on a drip and gave me oxygen.”
Afterwards doctors told Marelies that because of the delay Makyla became distressed.
“I was already on the theatre bed ready to give birth when they went to lunch and left me there. I gave birth two hours later. When my baby came out she looked like she was dying. “They sent us to Dora Nginza Hospital. At six that evening they called me to feed her. I was so happy to hold her. Later when it was feeding time I went back to the nursery to my baby and she wasn’t there. Staff told me that she got sick and was in neonatal ICU.
“I went to her. The doctor said my baby had inhaled some fluid in my womb and that was poisoning her little body.
“They told me there was nothing they could do for her anymore. I saw how her heart rate dropped while I was with her. They told me they were going to switch off her machines. The doctor flicked the switch … I felt like I wanted to die. I couldn’t believe my baby was dead.”
Hayley Windvogel, 30, who is diabetic, has lost two little ones a year apart. Their names were Hope and Ava. Both died at Dora Nginza Hospital.
Ava was born on December 16 2012.
Hayley gave birth naturally even though hers was identified as a high-risk pregnancy.
“She was a big baby. To get her out they had to break her little shoulder. But she was still OK. They brought her to me … I was so happy.” The next day Hayley had to go for surgery. “All of the Monday I was so unsettled but I couldn’t walk, so I had no way of finding my child.
“On the Tuesday morning. I first went to look for her at the nursery. She wasn’t there. I found her at the neonatal ICU.
“[The doctor] said she had brain damage … I tried to say goodbye. I couldn’t let her go but she slipped away. I saw her heart beating slower and slower and then stopping. She was two days old.
“I will never let go of my two girls. Their deaths broke my heart forever.”
Radiance Campbell, 31, lost her newborn baby in 2011. That is when Dora Nginza not only required much-needed equipment, but also faced a dire staff shortage.
“Losing a child is a wound that never, ever heals,” Campbell said. “I was seven months’ pregnant and going to have my baby at Mercantile Hospital.”
But before Radiance could get there, she was taken to Dora Nginza after she collapsed while at a clinic with her son. She had an emergency caesar. “I told them my baby was not ready yet. Her name was going to be Edrea. I have three boys and I was dreaming of a daughter.” Edrea weighed 900 grams.
“I first went to look for her at ICU but the nurse told me she was at the neonatal unit. That evening she died.”
It is for babies like Makyla, Edrea, Hope and Ava that Dora Nginza’s head ofpaediatrics, Dr Lungile Pepeta, has now turned to the private sector for help.
Better equipment could have given all these tiny girls a fighting chance.