A Pietermaritzburg woman’s impassioned plea for nurses at two city hospitals to help her very ill infant fell on deaf ears and hours later the five-month-old baby died.
After his mother was turned away from two state hospitals — Grey’s and Northdale — baby Brody Lee Bezuidenhout could not hold on any longer and died.
The grieving family told The Witness on Monday that had he been attended to urgently they believe Brody Lee would still be alive today.
The five-month-old baby died at Edendale Hospital in the early hours of Sunday morning after his family were allegedly earlier turned away by nurses at Grey’s and Northdale Hospitals.
A series of tests later revealed that baby Brody Lee had contracted bacterial meningitis. His bereaved aunt, Janine Kemp, said the infant woke up crying on Saturday night. The mother noticed that the baby was running a very high fever and could not calm down.
When he continued to cry, they knew something was wrong and rushed to Grey’s Hospital. When the family arrived at Grey’s Hospital at about 11.30 pm, the infant’s vital signs were checked, and he was given a suppository to break his temperature. But Grey’s would not admit him. The family were given a referral letter to the Northdale Hospital’s children’s clinic.
“When we got to Northdale, they didn’t even bother looking at the baby. The nurse on duty didn’t even open the referral letter. She was very arrogant with us,” Kemp said.
She said the nurse told the family there were no beds available.
Kemps said the nurse on duty had asked the family if another patient should give up their bed for the baby.
“We told her we were not asking anyone to give up their bed. We just wanted the nurse to attend to the baby in his mother’s arms.”
She told The Witness that the nurse refused to examine the baby and instructed the family to go to another hospital. The family rushed back to Grey’s Hospital, only to be turned away again as they were supposed to go to Northdale. In the interim, Brody-Lee’s condition had deteriorated.
“While we were leaving Grey’s, the baby started turning blue around the lips and he went cold. We thought his fever broke. Little did we know that he was leaving us.”
The family took the baby home but after an hour, they noticed that the infant had blue spots all over his body.
A sobbing Kemp said they rushed to Edendale Hospital where doctors tried to resuscitate Brody Lee for 45 minutes before he was declared dead. “We want to know why nobody would help us. If they had helped him … he would have survived. We are very upset, heartbroken and angry,” she said.
Kemp said on Sunday, they were informed by a doctor at Edendale Hospital that had nurses given Brody Lee two shots of penicillin he would have been fine. “It’s very heartbreaking. How can they turn a baby away? I understand that they didn’t have beds but why couldn’t they just help him? He didn’t need a bed.”
Kemp said at Grey’s Hospital they were informed that the hospital only assists patients with referral letters.
“If you don’t have a file with them then they won’t help you. In a case like this, we thought they would help us,” she said.
Kemp said when they spoke to Grey’s Hospital management on Sunday, they promised to check their CCTV cameras. “We phoned and told them that the baby died after they refused to help us. All they could say was that they were sorry. What will that help because our baby is gone,” she said sobbing.
She described Brody Lee as a friendly baby. “He was always smiling and laughing,” she said.
The KZN Health Department acknowledged an e-mail inquiry sent by The Witness, but had not responded by late on Monday.