Durban man dies after maggot infestation in mouth

A man has died after video images of a maggot infestation inside his mouth at a Durban healthcare facility went viral on social media.
Hospital bed in corridor A man has died after video images of a maggot infestation inside his mouth at a Durban healthcare facility went viral on social media.
Image: 123RF/Lucian Coman

The video images of a maggot infestation inside the mouth of a 52-year-old Durban man who died this week will forever haunt his family. 

The video of Sadek Ebrahim in a ward at RK Khan Hospital in Chatsworth, south of Durban, has sent shock waves across social media since it went viral. Now the department of health has called for an investigation.

Ebrahim, who suffered a major stroke in 2014, leaving him unable to move and talk, died on Wednesday after he was admitted to the public hospital on June 19. 

His son, Azaad, said his father's death could have been avoided.

Open wound

"We initially took him to RK Khan on May 14 after a sore, about the size of a R2 coin, had formed near his ankle and we saw maggots coming out of it. We waited from 1pm to about 9:30pm before he was treated. The stench from the wound was unreal."

"When we eventually saw the surgeon he cleaned up my father's ankle to the extent that there was an open wound and you could see the bone. They sent us home and told us everything should be fine."

Amputate

"On June 19 we took him back to the hospital because his leg had turned black - we knew that they were going to need to amputate his leg. The doctors told us that because of his poor health, he would have a 50% chance of surviving the operation.

"When I got to the hospital on June 23 after his operation, the night before I saw a bunch of doctors standing outside his room - he had been isolated in his own room. They told me he had survived the operation but now had a 80/20 chance of survival."

 Azaad said what followed that morning was surreal. 

"My uncle and I were feeding him and I saw that his upper lip was swollen. When I looked inside his mouth that's when I saw all those maggots inside his mouth - I completely lost it."

In the video, Azaad is heard shouting and calling for hospital authorities to account for what they had found.

Neglect

Angered, Azaad said he had to walk outside to calm down after shouting at the nursing staff.

"When I came back inside after about 30 minutes I saw that the nursing staff had still not attended to my father and cleaned him. How can a human being be treated like that? That was my father, his pride was dragged through the mud."

"I know [public hospitals] are overcrowded and have a lot of patients to deal with, but how can someone not notice that? The man could not talk or ask for help, should he have not received a little more care?"

Azaad said he had a meeting with the hospital CEO Dr Prakash Subban on Monday and questioned him about the maggots.  "I asked him why there were maggots in my father's mouth, he couldn't answer me."

Speaking to SowetanLIVE on Friday Dr Subban confirmed his meeting with Azaad.

"I listened to him and it's not that I couldn't provide him with answers, it's just that we needed to have conducted our own investigations into the matter, I could not speak off the cuff. We have conducted our own preliminary investigation and the department are conducting their own," he said. 

Investigation

A dental expert, who spoke to SowetanLIVE on condition of anonymity, said it would be very difficult for maggots to infest a patient's mouth unless there were flies around. 

"When I look at the video, that area of the mouth doesn't look to be diseased, but I cannot say because I didn't examine or treat the patient. There could have been something in the food - I'm not sure," he said. 

KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has called for an urgent and thorough investigation into the matter. 

"We firstly wish to send our deepest condolences to the family, and we must indicate that as a department we are quite shocked by the state of the patient. We really don’t understand how things could have got to this level. We are going to conduct a thorough and proper investigation to understand what led to this," Simelane-Zulu said in a statement. 

She added that it did not make sense that a patient would be in the care of a public hospital and have to die in such a manner. 

"The reality of it is that it means, while he was under our care, and he had the challenges that he did, he also had an added discomfort of having to deal with the situation that he was faced with. I have requested the acting head of department that we should do a thorough investigation."


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