Crippled mom in hospital feud

‘Injection at Dora Nginza followed by 13 years in wheelchair’

When Zukiwe Mangwane left her home 13 years ago to get treatment for a mild headache at Dora Nginza Hospital, little did she know that those were her last steps and that she would return home in a wheelchair.

Mangwane, 54, is paralysed following an alleged botched lumber puncture administered at Dora Nginza Hospital – just a stone’s throw away from her Kwazakhele home.

The mother of five is now confined to a wheelchair, allegedly as a result of the procedure in 2003 when doctors informed her that she had tubercular meningitis.

“I am still traumatised. I want this chapter of my life closed but it cannot be,” she said.

“They have ruined my life. Officials from Bhisho used to visit my house after they learnt of my predicament.

“They promised to settle the matter out of court, but to date they have shown no commitment.”

The Eastern Cape Department of Health said last week it was aware of the case but denied liability.

Department spokesman Siyanda Manana said: “Our head of department has previously interacted with the family to give them clinical support, but in terms of liability, we do not accept any wrongdoing on our part.

“The patient is entitled and free to seek legal assistance. We cannot stop her,” Manana said.

This response has come as a double blow to Mangwane who said she was angry after the department allegedly reneged on what she said was an initial agreement to settle.

Her version was supported by the health portfolio committee which is still insisting that the department must simply settle the case to avoid a lengthy legal wrangle.

“This is new to me. I am angry,” Mangwane said.

“They have had my case over the years with the promise that they will settle out of court, but now this. “Whose fault is it that I am confined to a wheelchair? “They stalled my case for all these years,” Mangwane said.

Bhisho health portfolio committee chairman Mxolisi Dimaza said his committee was at the forefront of trying to reach an out-of-court settlement.

“I have reported it to the relevant officials in the department but they are delaying coming up with a settlement. We do not know why. “It must be resolved as soon as possible to limit the possibility of going to court,” Dimaza said.

Mangwane said after her admission to the hospital a doctor had referred her for an X-ray. The following day, she said, a nurse injected her three times as she fumbled to get fluid out of her spinal cord.

She lost feeling in her legs the day after the procedure. The hospital staff allegedly told her she had tubercular meningitis – an infection of the central nervous system – that had caused the paraplegia.

“I was unable to feel my legs after a nurse gave me an injection. “I informed them about this but they insisted it was as a result of the injection and that it would soon be over. They have ruined my life,” Mangwane said.

It was subsequently discovered by doctors at Empilweni Hospital, where she was referred for further treatment, that, in fact, she had never had tubercular meningitis

Mangwane said no CT scan had been performed on her before the lumbar puncture.

Since 2004, she and her husband had been lodging complaints with the hospital, only to be told that the doctor was no longer with the hospital and her whereabouts were not known.

To add insult to injury, Mangwane said, she was told in 2006 that her file at Dora Nginza had gone missing, although her husband, Sixeko, found all the hospital medical records dumped in a bag near their home.

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