Home News City mom meets baby for first time after month-long Covid fight

City mom meets baby for first time after month-long Covid fight


A story of hope and dedication to save both mom and baby.

MomThuli Nokuthala Ndzunga, baby Asiphile and Sister Cornela Orren. Pictures: Soraya Crowie

WHILE the number of Covid-19-related deaths in the Northern Cape has soared to 94, there are many more stories of hope and it was this hope that staff at Kimberley’s Mediclinic Hospital prayed for when baby Thembile, as they called her, was rushed into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), after an emergency Caesarean section was performed on her Covid-positive mother, who was fighting for her life.

After more than a month on life support, Thuli Nokuthala Ndzunga, 42, a nurse at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital, was finally able to take her one-month-old baby, Asiphile Amila, home on Saturday, when the mother and child were both discharged from hospital.

Ndzunga, who was 32 weeks pregnant at the time, was admitted to Mediclinic Kimberley in Du Toitspan Road on July 6, for high-blood pressure, although she was also displaying symptoms of Covid-19.

A test revealed that she was positive for the virus and when her condition continued to deteriorate she was transferred to the intensive care unit of Mediclinic Gariep Hospital.

She was sedated and intubated on July 13.

She remained under sedation but her condition got worse and three days later, on July 16, the medical team decided to perform an emergency Caesarean section in an attempt to save the mother’s life.

Her baby daughter, born at 34 weeks, weighed only 1.440kg, and was rushed to the NICU at Mediclinic Kimberley, where the unit manager, Sister Cornela Orren, and her team took care of her.

“Her mother was sedated throughout this time and was not aware that she had given birth to a baby girl. The staff from the NICU at Mediclinic Kimberley went to Gariep hospital when the Caesarean section was performed and brought her back here, where we have the facilities to look after newborn babies,” Orren said.

The staff nicknamed the baby Thembile, which means hope. “We were hoping and praying that both the baby and mother would make it. Little Thembile wasn’t breathing when she was born and she also had to go onto a ventilator. However, she grew stronger every day and was soon able to breathe on her own. By Friday, she weighed a healthy 2.429kg.”

The baby was also tested for Covid-19 but was negative.

Ndzunga, meanwhile, remained on life support in Mediclinic Gariep until a week ago when she was slowly weaned off the ventilator. She didn’t know at the time that she had given birth and she was only able to meet and hold her baby on Friday when she was discharged from Gariep Mediclinic, said Orren.

Ndzunga meanwhile also had to deal with the sad news that the baby’s father, who lives in KwaZulu-Natal, had died from Covid-19.

“We had to contact the family, including the Ndzunga’s brother and the child’s grandparents, so that we could register her birth as there was no one else to do so,” Orren said.

“The family chose the names Asiphile – which means ‘let it live’ – Amila Ndzunga and we had to get all sorts of forms and affidavits so that we could register her birth at the Department of Home Affairs, so that the baby could go onto her mother’s medical aid.”

Ndzunga’s sister is travelling from KwaZulu-Natal to fetch the mother and her baby, where the mother will recuperate in her home province, before returning to work at the Robert Sobukwe Mangaliso Hospital, where she has been nursing since 2013.

Orren, meanwhile, explained on Saturday that if a pregnant mother is infected with Covid-19, the baby will not automatically be positive.

“We had another mommy who was positive but her baby was negative. This mommy was very ill and she passed away. However, there was another mommy, who was also positive, but whose symptoms were only mild, and her baby was positive.”