Hospital group outright denies Iqbal Survé's claims of 'Thembisa 10' babies

27 October 2021 - 14:33
Lenmed hospital group has denied that 'Thembisa 10' mother Gosiame Sithole delivered any babies at its facilities. Stock photo.
Lenmed hospital group has denied that 'Thembisa 10' mother Gosiame Sithole delivered any babies at its facilities. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/vitalinka

The Lenmed Group has denied fresh claims that the controversial decuplets known as the “Thembisa 10” were delivered at Zamokuhle Private Hospital in Thembisa.

Independent Media executive chair Dr Iqbal Survé said on Wednesday that an inquiry instituted by the media group had found that Gosiame Sithole delivered the babies at this hospital but the infants were transferred to Thembisa Hospital.

Dubbing the delivery a comedy of errors, Survé said Sithole was admitted to Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria on June 7 to deliver the babies. Something appeared to have gone awry and she was taken to Zamokuhle Private Hospital to give birth. But, he charged, the ventilators were not working and the babies were transferred to Thembisa Hospital and then back to the neonatal ICU at Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

Lenmed Group said in a statement on Wednesday that Sithole had not given birth to decuplets at any of its facilities in June.

“In fact, the hospital group has no record of Ms Sithole giving birth at any of our facilities.”

Netcare also confirmed that “no patient with a multiple pregnancy of eight or more foetuses has ever been admitted at any of its hospitals, including Netcare Sunninghill Hospital”.

“In addition to double-checking hospital records, management has verified with all the independent gynaecologists and obstetricians practising at the facility that none of their practices have consulted a patient or done a scan showing a multiple pregnancy of eight or more foetuses,” said Jacques du Plessis, MD of Netcare’s hospital division.

According to Lenmed, protocols stipulated that in the case of multiple births, the attending obstetricians would inform the hospital well in advance of the number of expected neonates, to ensure there were sufficient ventilators and oscillators available.

“Multiple births are an extraordinary event and our attending obstetricians inform the hospital well in advance of the number of expected neonates, as the delivery can be expected any time after the 24th week of pregnancy, depending on the number of babies expected,” said Dr Nilesh Patel, group chief medical officer at Lenmed.

The group said thorough planning would be required to ensure enough neonatal nurses were present to help stabilise and ventilate the babies if required. In an instance of the delivery of decuplets, 10 NICU nurses and 10 paediatricians would have had to be on hand to take care of the highly vulnerable newborns.

We have detailed, secure and verified records of all births at our facilities. No-one by that name [Gosiame Sithole] has given birth, nor have there been any multiple births at the hospital during that time.
Amil Devchand, Lenmed CEO

“An exercise of this nature would generally require the services of an academic hospital which has the necessary resources to deliver multiple neonates. Had one of our patients at Zamokuhle Private Hospital in Thembisa been expecting more than two neonates, Zamokuhle would have instituted alternative arrangements,” said Patel.

Lenmed CEO Amil Devchand said no hospital in the group had ever delivered more than triplets.

“We have detailed, secure and verified records of all births at our facilities. No-one by that name [Gosiame Sithole] has given birth, nor have there been any multiple births at the hospital during that time.”

He dismissed allegations of baby smuggling and child trafficking concerning “Ms Sithole”.

“These baseless allegations have been thoroughly investigated and have unequivocally been found to be false rumour-mongering and an attempt by some to peddle fabricated information,” said the group.

“Lenmed would like to assure all our patients, the communities in which we operate and our broader stakeholders that patient care and safety is our priority. No newborn baby may leave any of our hospitals without compliance with strict protocols that are verified by our staff. Furthermore, we operate within a highly regulated and ethics-driven field of practice and we will always remain true to those governing protocols,” said Devchand.

Survé, however, maintained the births did happen and charged that state hospitals were  the epicentre of human trafficking and baby trafficking, and alleged that the department of home affairs was involved.

“Our investigation uncovered horrific stories of baby trafficking and that babies are trafficked from Gauteng to Mpumalanga, West Africa and overseas,” he said.

He said 50% of the trafficked babies were used for muti, surgery or stem cells, while 50% were trafficked.

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