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Over 600 still wait for Orthopaedic Surgery

November 24, 2015

Mbombela – Cut off from the world, orthopaedic patients lie in ward six of Rob Ferreira Hospital, awaiting operations. “I don’t know what is happening at home.” Said Mr. Zacheus Mashego who recently spent his 40th birthday in hospital with a broken femur. “My mother won’t tell me everything. She is afraid that I will take pills to kill myself. I don’t know what is going to happen to my kids. ”He said before starting to sob. Bedridden, he couldn’t walk away to cry in privacy. Mashego was run over by a car on August 16. He described waking up in Rob Ferreira Hospital as Wrong Turn 7. Or what should have been the seventh instalment in the horror-movie franchise in his view. “This is hell. I don’t know how long I will have to stay here.”

According to the Department of Health, there is a backlog of 647 orthoapedic surgeries in Mpumalanga. To this end, treasury intends to provide the department with an additional R98 million in the adjustment of the 2015/16 budget. Of this, R38 million is to perform the surgeries. In the meantime, Mashego has more questions than answers with his life in tatters. His two children at home in KaNyamazane are being cared for by his mother on her pension, since he, the breadwinner, cannot earn a salary. He underwent skeletal traction, to reduce the fracture, for 12 weeks. Afterwards, the doctors told him the bone was no longer in a good enough condition to have a Steinman pin inserted.

Mashego’s neighbour, in the same ward, Mr. Douglas Zuze (62) was discharged on November 13. He sustained a femur break by also being run over by a car on August 5 on the R40 between White River and Mbombela when Zuze was crossing the road to Bundu Lodge where he worked as a security officer. He told Lowvelder that operations planned for his broken femur and injured ankle have been postponed countless of times. Eventually, on November 10, he had pins inserted into his ankle. A few days later he was discharged, without the broken femur being fixed. He was scheduled for a review yesterday but, at the time of going to print, he was still waiting to be seen by a doctor at the hospital.

The department didn’t provide clear answers to the newspaper’s questions. Spokesperson Mr. Dumisani Malamule didn’t say why Zuze had been discharged despite the bone in his thigh not growing back correctly. Asked why Mashego’s femur has not been repaired, Malamule said: “Doctor assessment indicates the fracture is healing well, thus why he has been discharged a Steinman pin was inserted as well on this patient (sic).” It is little comfort for Mashego, who is desperate. “Are they waiting for my leg to rot before they cut it off? I can be a cripple.” Mr Richard Fakude (36) continues to wait for hip-replacement surgery in Steve Biko Academic. Lowvelder previously reported how he had been a patient at Rob Ferreira Hospital for six months before being admitted to Steve Biko on September 18, where he was scheduled to undergo a hip replacement. He said he had still not undergone the operation. The Gauteng Department of Health did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

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