A DURBAN man diagnosed with stage four cancer was reportedly refused treatment at Addington Hospital. He said he was told he was old and “going to die anyway”. He wanted justice for other elderly patients.
The Sunday Tribune Herald spoke to him earlier in the week, and on Saturday, he died. By this time, the Sunday Tribune Herald had already been printed.
This was his story:
Hoosen Noor Mahomed, 60, of Charlotte Maxeke (Beatrice) Street wanted to share his story in the hope that others like him won’t have to endure such treatment.
Noor Mahomed was diagnosed in November after it was discovered that he had a tumour on his colon. By this time, 65% of his liver had also been affected by the cancer.
He said that instead of removing the tumour to bring internal relief, he was given morphine to treat his pain.
He was heartbroken when he was told by a doctor at the hospital that he had to go home because there was nothing they could do for him.
“The doctor said it was hospital policy that when someone was old, and if the cancer had reached stage four, they could not treat the patient because it was inevitable that the patient would die soon.
“They also tried to justify their actions by telling my family and me that there were no oncologists available because of the crisis, so those who were elderly were not given priority,” said Noor Mahomed.
This was difficult for him to accept.
“Doctors and nurses took an oath to care for people, so I expected them to care for the elderly too and not show blatant disregard for us, even if we are dying,” said Noor Mahomed, a shop assistant.
When he was first diagnosed, he spent two weeks at the hospital. When he realised he was not going to be helped, his family raised the money for him to see a private oncologist.
He was also told by the doctors at Addington that he needed to have an urgent computed tomography (CT) scan but that he had to do it privately as the CT machine was not working.
Noor Mahomed said that during his initial diagnoses, he was once made to wait at the hospital from midday to midnight because the blood-testing machines were not working. He was reportedly told that if he left, he would not get his results.
“I’ve been a long-standing patient of Addington. I don’t know what the hospital policies are, but I’ve never heard of a policy that says you should not treat a patient because they are old and will die,” said Noor Mahomed.
Responding to the oncology crisis and Noor Mahomed’s plight, KZN Department of Health spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda said: “We reject in the strongest terms an allegation that there is a hospital policy that cancer patients at stage four and old age should not be treated.
“That is far from the truth. Patients at stage four continue to receive supportive care and some receive that in palliative care facilities across the province,” said Mafunda.
She said the patient or next of kin had the right to approach the hospital and ask for a detailed explanation regarding the management of the patient.
“Regarding oncology, the department is finalising the awarding of a tender that was advertised in December for private oncologists to render services at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital and Addington Hospital.
“As soon as this process is finalised, the department hopes to have three or more oncologists based at Inkosi Albert to render services every day for a specific period. The envisaged starting date for this service will be February 1,” said Mafunda.
Noor Mahomed’s son, Hassan, said the department’s official position did not undermine their claims.
“I believe the staff are less worried about saving lives. The management is welcome to prove me wrong,” he said.