Woman bedridden after four unsuccessful operations

Nomsa Ngcobo of Swaneville claims she was badly treated at Leratong Hospital on the West Rand. /ANTONIO MUCHAVE
Nomsa Ngcobo of Swaneville claims she was badly treated at Leratong Hospital on the West Rand. /ANTONIO MUCHAVE

A trip to a state hospital changed Nomsa Ngcobo's life for the worst, leaving her bedridden and nursing an open wound on her stomach.

Ngcobo, 52, of Swaneville near Krugersdorp, was an active caregiver until 2017, when she went to Leratong Hospital on the West Rand as she struggled to walk.

"The doctors said they needed bone marrow to ascertain what was wrong with me. I don't remember what happened after that... with four operations [done on] on my stomach and I ended up with a wound," Ngcobo said.

Since then she has been in and out of hospital. Her recent hospital trip was in July and she spent two months in hospital.

"They said I was going to be operated but when I got there, I was told it was too risky to operate. I was instead placed in an isolation room as they said I had a kidney infection and after that I was discharged. I can't do anything for myself," she said.

Sowetan visited Ngcobo at her two-bedroomed house she shares with her niece. The family survives on Ngcobo's disability grant.

As a result of being bedridden, she has developed bedsores.

Her niece Duduzile Ndaba, 41, said the family has been very traumatised. "I remember when we visited her and discovered that she had been operated on. We asked the doctor who performed the operation what was the problem and who gave him permission to operate," said Ndaba.

They were told that something was wrong with her spinal cord but there was no explanation about the four operations.

"I then asked to see the X-ray and my aunt's spinal cord looked fine," she said.

Ndaba said when her aunt was discharged last month, the smell from the wound was unbearable.

"They did not give us any dressing and we are not trained to look after her. We are very angry as the family because we feel the hospital has been negligent," she said.

Ndaba added: "No one has explained to us what the operations were for. We can't afford to buy my aunt diapers and it pains us to see her surviving on painkillers."

Leratong Hospital spokesperson Fikile Oyekanmi confirmed that Ngcobo was a patient at the facility and has been treated at various stages.

"We are aware of her complaint and have met with her and her relatives to discuss her condition. Options and avenues available to assist her were also discussed. All possible interventions are subject to Ms Ngcobo's consent.

"We are unfortunately unable to divulge the details of her condition and treatment because of our obligation to confidentiality," Oyekanmi said.

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