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Woman Loses Sight Due To A Botched Operation At Groote Schuur, Threatens To Sue Hospital

A Delft mother says she lost her sight due to a botched operation at Groote Schuur Hospital.

Now she wants help to sue the hospital for “ruining her life”.

Phumla Bhambatha, 46, says a student nurse left her blind in her left eye after she mistakenly broke a vein in her eye when she injected it.

She says while a doctor admitted they were at fault, all she received from the hospital was an apology and being called the K-word.

Now, 13 years later, she has been left completely blind, disabled and financially ruined.

Phumla says in 2007 she had a terrible headache and was admitted to hospital with both her eyes “working perfectly”.

“I went to Groote Schuur and the doctors said there was a problem with my eyes and I might become blind in the next five years,” she explains.

“I was admitted for three days and they did an operation to fix my eyes.”

After the operation, she could only see through her right eye, but doctors sent her home “to heal”.

“We went to the hospital again to ask what was happening. The doctor said his student nurse injected the needle into my vein and he apologised for the damage.

“After countless more visits to the hospital, the doctor called us the K-word and said he was tired of addressing the same issue as there was nothing he could do.”

She says in 2009, she also lost her right eye: “The second eye became painful and started seeing gloomy.

“’I went to Tygerberg Hospital, where I was asked who previously operated on my left eye as the veins were dead and the damage was passing to the right eye.”

Phumla blames Groote Schuur for her blindness: “I want them to compensate me.”

Her husband Mzikabawo quit his job to take care of her.

“People were taking advantage of her blindness when I was at work, they would knock and steal items at the house,” he says.

“We now survive on her disability grant and our children’s grants. I asked Groote Schuur to at least give us something since they damaged her eyes but they refused.”

Phumla says they want to take the matter to court but can’t afford a lawyer: “An apology will not put food on the table.

’’If we had the money, we would take the hospital on. We need all the help we can get to sue.”

Alaric Jacobs, Groote Schuur Hospital spokesperson, says: “We are aware of Ms Pumla Bhambatha’s allegations and have over the years been dealing/addressing/meeting with her regarding her concerns and allegations.

’’She is welcome to contact us should there be any other issues she would like to discuss in this specific regard.”

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