Anger as KZN hospital sends child home with gaping wound

06 September 2017 - 20:12 By Katharine Child And Matthew Savides
The 8-year-old boy was discharged from Madadeni hospital in Newcastle on Monday with an open wound‚ following an appendix operation.
The 8-year-old boy was discharged from Madadeni hospital in Newcastle on Monday with an open wound‚ following an appendix operation.
Image: #hireAGraduate/ @prissie_m via Twitter

A child is back in a KwaZulu-Natal hospital after being discharged with a gaping bleeding wound‚ forcing his aunt to turn to Twitter to demand help.

But the health department disputes the version of events.

The 8-year-old boy was discharged from Madadeni hospital in Newcastle on Monday with an open wound‚ following an appendix operation.

His aunt‚ Gabi Manana‚ asked her friend to tweet the pictures of the child's festering incision without identifying him.

Manana said: "I was looking for help‚ that is why I put that thing on Twitter."

The tweet asked national health department officials for help.

The boy was in too much pain to walk on Monday‚ said Manana.

People who viewed the tweet were worried the large uncovered wound could become septic.

On Monday night‚ Health Department spokesman Joe Maila responded to the tweet saying he had called Kwazulu-Natal health officials.

They called the child's aunt on Monday night.

On Tuesday‚ the child was taken back to the clinic‚ as the family does not have money to take him to a different hospital.

The nurse at the clinic said they were not able to help the child as the wound was too infected.

Manana said her sister took the child home‚ following the failed clinic visit.

Manana was also called early on Tuesday morning by a man identifying himself as Steve from the hospital legal department.

"He said I am putting the life of the child in danger."

"He said how we are going to go back to same hospital if I am putting things on Twitter?"

Later on a Tuesday‚ a nurse from the hospital called the family and organised for an ambulance to fetch him.

Manana explained: "She said ‘don’t mind I will take care of him’ but also said she was on leave."

The child was fetched and returned to hospital where he is receiving treatment.

The KwaZulu-Natal department has a different version of events.

Spokesman Desmond Motha said that the child underwent an operation on August 24 and that a clinical team determined that the care could be continued on an out-patient basis.

"This plan was discussed with the caregiver and agreed upon. The plan was that the dressings would be done closer to home at a local clinic every second day‚ with the child returning to hospital on September 21 to be assessed by the clinical team. The child was discharged on September 4‚" said Motha.

But Manana says it is not true. His mother was told to get the boy's wound cleaned at the clinic.

Motha said: "Following receipt of the complaint‚ the nursing services manager contacted the caregiver and arrangements were made for the child to be brought to the clinic for re-assessment and a debriefing session with the caregiver. The nursing services manager physically went to the local clinic to attend to the child and the caregiver. On discussion…it emerged that she was still in agreement with the clinicians’ plan of action‚ even though the size of the wound still concerned her‚" said Motha.

He added that the picture appeared to have been from five days after the operation.

"On the fifth day post-operation there was wound dehiscence (a surgical complication in which a wound ruptures along a surgical incision) and pus continued to ooze. It appears that this is when the photograph was taken‚ and it was before wound care had been continued until the operation site closed up‚" he said.

Manana said this is claim was "a lie". The picture of the open wound was taken on Monday and tweeted on the same today‚ she claims.

Motha was also critical of the pictures being shared on Twitter‚ saying this was "a violation of the child’s human right".

Manana said she used Twitter to get help.

The child's face was not shown.

She also said Motha called her and asked‚ "why did you put this on Twitter?"

Manana is currently on her way to Newcastle to visit her nephew in hospital and monitor his treatment.