Cape Town – A Mitchell’s Plain mom says Groote Schuur Hospital refused to treat her for renal failure, sent her home to die and then declared her dead.
Marilyn America, 41, says she’s been a patient at the hospital for five years getting treatment for hypertension.
She says in October 2017, she became very ill and noticed that she had started swelling.
“The one doctor checked my blood pressure and sent me home to rest, saying it’s my hypertension. They kept changing my medication,” she says.
The mom of eight-year-old twins, who worked at a butchery and was her family’s breadwinner, says she became even more sick and her family rushed her back to Groote Schuur.
“Twice I was told I have kidney problems due to my blood pressure and I was never treated for my failing kidneys or given dialysis,” she says.
In February 2018, Groote Schuur staff allegedly informed her sister, Rozelia Cloete, 49, that Marilyn had renal failure due to her own negligence.
“‘They said she had renal failure, but they never treated her for her kidneys,” an angry Rozelia says.
“They said they will not place a catheter in and do dialysis because she didn’t take her medication and that she was negligent.
“‘They said she didn’t fit the criteria to get dialysis as she had hypertension and that she had between two to three weeks to live and that we must take her home to die.”
The shocked family took Marilyn to a private doctor, while an NGO, who asked not to be named, arranged for her to receive dialysis at Rondebosch Medical Centre.
Marilyn underwent aggressive dialysis treatment for six weeks and now receives dialysis twice a week.
“If we had listened to Groote Schuur, she would have died at home,” says Rozalia.
At the time the family also tried to collect her medication for hypertension from the Mitchells Plain Day Hospital, where they were told that Groote Schuur Hospital had Marilyn declared deceased.
The medication is dispensed at the day hospital but is administered by Groote Schuur.
Neighbour Elizabeth Wentzel says: “When we went to get her medication in February 2018, they said they won’t give the folder because it said deceased.”
Marilyn now asks family and friends to share their medication with her.
Western Cape Government Health says Marilyn didn’t fit their criteria for dialysis.
“One of these criteria is that the patient must be suitable for transplantation to qualify for renal transplant,” says spokesman Mark van der Heever.
“Ms America presented to Groote Schuur Hospital in 2014 as a candidate for dialysis but was found to be a category 3 patient, which means that she would not qualify for renal dialysis based on her existing underlying medical condition.
“Ms America’s last visit to the hospital was in February 2018 and has not attended visits since. She is not marked as “deceased” on the system.
“In order for Ms America to receive her medication she needs to visit the hospital so the attending doctor can re-examine and prescribe appropriate medication.”