'I pleaded with nurses for six hours as I held my dead baby'

Frank Maponya

A teenage mother allegedly had to endure carrying her dead baby in her arms for about six hours because hospital staff were reluctant to help her.

The incident happened at the Mankweng Hospital on March 11 where the young mother, 17, had taken her daughter for treatment.

The mother, who cannot be named because she is a minor, said the baby was suffering from diarrhoea and other complications when she took her to hospital.

The hospital is about 15kmfrom her home in GaMamphaka village near Boyne in Limpopo.

She told Sowetan yesterday that upon arrival at the hospital, she approached a doctor - who then examined the eight-month-old baby. "The baby had showed signs that she was dehydrated," said the mother.

She said the doctor, whose name is known to Sowetan, inserted a drip on the baby's head at about 11pm.

At about 12.30am, the doctor removed the drip and told the mother that the baby was "fine" and that she was discharged.

The mother was directed to the dispensary where she collected medication which included Panado tablets.

Since the baby was crying uncontrollably, the mother gave her the tablets to calm her down. However, she later realised that the baby was no longer breathing. She reported this to another doctor. After examination, the baby was declared dead at about 2am.

"I carried the baby in my arms, pleading with nurses to help me but no one bothered to," she said.

She blamed the first doctor for her daughter's death.

She said she only got help at about 8am when the morning shift staff arrived.

"I was surprised when the doctor wrote in his letter that my daughter had died on arrival," she said.

"If that was so, why did he insert a drip on her head and later removed it, saying my baby was fine?" she asked angrily.

Spokesperson for the provincial department of health Phuti Seloba said the baby "was only declared dead on arrival because she was initially discharged". He said, however, that an investigation would be made to determine the "wrong-doing" on the part of the hospital's officials.