Home South African Stillborn baby tossed out with medical waste and burnt

Stillborn baby tossed out with medical waste and burnt

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While the hospital apologised to the family, who only found out about it when they asked for the baby’s remains to bury them, the DA’s health spokesperson said the trauma would remain with them forever.

Johannesburg – The DA’s Jack Bloom has called for Gauteng hospitals to tighten controls on foetus disposal after staff at Pholosong Hospital mistakenly discarded a stillborn with medical waste – which was then set alight.

While the hospital apologised to the family, who only found out about it when they asked for the baby’s remains to bury them, the DA’s health spokesperson said the trauma would remain with them forever.

The Sowetan reported on Wednesday that 21-year-old Zandile Zolo, of Duduza, Ekurhuleni, was eight months’ pregnant when she was admitted to Pholosong Hospital on February 1, delivering a stillborn baby girl the next day.

Her mother Thembane was quoted as saying that when she visited her the next day, she found her in tears. Zandile informed her mother that her baby had died.

“I asked her where the body of the baby was and she told me that it had been placed in the mortuary,”  Thembane said. 

She also said one of the nurses informed her that the child “made the weight”, which meant the body would be released to be buried by the family.

“I came home and informed the rest of the family. We immediately started making preparations for the funeral. We secured a burial spot for her. 

“The next day we sent my daughter to the hospital with others to fetch the body, so that we could bury her (baby) on Wednesday,” she said.

Thembane said her daughter and other family members of the family waited at the hospital for a long time and were then informed that the doctor was in meetings. They later returned home without the corpse.

However, more shock awaited her when when nurses and a doctor from the hospital visited the family.

“They told us that a mistake happened and the body of the child was thrown away with medical waste. The waste was then set alight. When they realised what had happened, they could not do anything because it was too late.”

Thembane said the hospital CEO apologised to the family and promised to help Zandile get counselling for the trauma she suffered.

According to the Sowetan, Gauteng Department of Health spokesperson Philani Mhlungu said the matter was under investigation and further comment would be made at a later stage.

Bloom said the normal practice was that foetuses more than 24 weeks old are made available to the family for burial, but there have been cases where families have requested to bury a foetus born at less than 24 weeks.

“Unfortunately, I know of other cases where families’ wishes in this regard have not been respected.

“The Gauteng Health Department needs to clarify and tighten controls in hospitals to ensure that proper protocol and sensitivity to the family is followed with regard to burial of stillborn babies,” Bloom said.

The Star