Hospital amputates baby with pneumonia

Pertunia Ratsatsi

Pertunia Ratsatsi

A five-month-old baby, who was admitted to Tembisa Hospital with pneumonia, had her arm amputated after she picked up an infection from a drip.

But the Gauteng Health Department says it is not to blame.

Department spokesman Zanele Mngadi said: "There was no negligence on the part of the hospital."

Baby Palesa had serious coughing spasms when her mother Selinah Nyembe, 20, took her to the hospital in Ekurhuleni where she was diagnosed with pneumonia.

She was admitted to ward 5 on May 21.

"A nurse told me my baby had pneumonia and that she was going to admit her," Nyembe said yesterday. "She inserted a drip in her right arm before I left."

But Nyembe was shocked when she visited her daughter the next morning.

"I discovered that Palesa's hand was swollen and the drip was drawing blood, so I called the nurse who had inserted it. She shouted at me and said I had no medical qualifications, so I should not nag her.

"I was told to soak a piece of cloth in lukewarm water and place it on the swollen arm. But it just got worse. I sat helplessly beside my baby's bed until 5pm when the nurse came and removed the drip."

Nyembe was told that everything would be fine and she should go home.

"It was the longest night of my life. I couldn't stop thinking about my poor baby," she said.

The baby's arm remained swollen for more than three weeks.

Then it turned black. It began to rot.

Nyembe was told that her baby was HIV-positive and the arm had an infection.

Towards the end of June a doctor at the hospital asked Nyembe for permission to amputate Palesa's arm.

Nyembe was told that her baby would be fitted with a prosthetic arm when she was older.