Swopped baby breast-fed by HIV-woman

Mthetho Ndoni

Mthetho Ndoni

A young mother's worst fears came true when she found out that her baby had been swopped with one born to another woman at Dora Nginza Hospital in Port Elizabeth.

She also learnt that her first-born child might be HIV-positive after she was breast-fed by the HIV-infected woman.

Liezel Jacobs, 18, said a doctor had told her that staff had got her baby daughter's name tag mixed up with that of another baby born on the same day.

Jacobs said she suspected something was wrong when one of the nursing sisters came to take blood samples from her.

She said the nurse wouldn't say why she needed the blood, but that she had asked "a lot of strange questions about my baby's identity".

Jacobs was only informed about the mistake the next day.

She said: "The doctor told me that they had given my baby to another woman to breast feed, and that that woman had Aids.

"He said they had given my child an antiretroviral drug, but that they also had to do blood tests to determine if she had contracted the Aids virus."

Jacobs said the doctor had apologised for the mix-up and told her that it was not the first time that this had happened at the hospital.

After being informed about her baby, Jacobs was moved to a private ward .

Lulamile Jamjam, the chief executive of the Port Elizabeth hospital complex, said he was waiting for a comprehensive report about the incident before commenting further.

Two staff members have been pointed out as perhaps being responsible for the negligence and they will have to face a disciplinary committee.

Aydin Vehbi, the hospital's medical superintendent, said the hospital was "99,9percent sure" which baby belonged to which mother, but that they had taken more samples from all parties for DNA tests for confirmation.

Nevirapine - an anti-Aids drug administered to prevent the transfer of HIV from mother to child - had been given to the baby breastfed by the wrong woman.

The baby tested negative in initial tests, but will have to undergo more tests in the next few months.

Mzukisi Ndara, a spokesman for the department of health in the Eastern Cape, said he couldn't fathom how a mix-up of such magnitude could happen.