In September, Noteyi had been in labour for 12 hours when doctors decided to wheel her into the operating theatre at Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital for an emergency caesarean section.
Noteyi claims that she was discharged from the hosptial with a fistual that left her incontinent and unable to control the constant trickle of urine from her vagina. She also alleges that although she went back to the hospital to complain about the condition, health workers sent her away with mild pain medication and instructions to do pelvic exercises in an attempt to stem the flow of urine.
This is despite a December radiological report in Health-e News’ possession that shows doctors suspected Noteyi may have suffered a ureterovaginal fistula, or a hole between her vagina and the ducts that carry urine from her kidneys to her bladder. The condition can only be surgically repaired.
According to Noteyi, the odour arising from her incontinenence has made it difficult to visit friends or relatives as she is forced to bathe several times a day to control the smell.[quote float= right]I am going to sue them because I am very young to live like this”
“I told them (hospital workers) very early about my problem, but they said I must exercise I will be fine,” Noteyi said. “It is the hospital’s fault I am like this.”
“I am going to sue them because I am very young to live like this,” Noteyi told Health-e News.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that at least 50,000 women globally are affected annually by fistulas or, abnormal opening connecting women’s vaginas to other organs like the bladder, colon or rectum. If untreated, the condition can lead women to produce a steady stream of urine or stool.
According to the WHO, more than two million young women in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to be living with untreated fistulas largely due to protracted or difficult labours. Women like these are likely to experience stigma and social segregation due to related hygiene issues as well as health problems.
Noteyi’s husband, Dankie Puling, said the couple struggled to afford diapers for both their six-month old child and Noteyi.
“I need to buy nappies for the child and my wife and that is too much,” he said. “Can the hospital just fix the damaged they have done to my wife?”
Following queries from Health-e News to the Gauteng Department of Health regarding Noteyi’s condition, Noteyi was called to Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital and subsequently booked for a May surgery to repair the fistula.
However, Noteyi and her husband are not happy with the date and want the hospital to operate sooner. Noteyi says she and her husband will pursue legal action against the hospital should the operation not take place. – Health-e News.
An edited version of this story also appeared in The Star newspaper.