MASERU — Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital, Lesotho’s new multi-million referral hospital, has gotten off to a bad start.
A month after it’s inauguration by King Letsie III, a woman from Ha-Seoli has accused the hospital of switching her healthy new-born baby for a dead one.
A distraught ‘Mabokang Raletaja, 38, told the Sunday Express that she delivered a healthy baby at the Hospital last Monday evening through a cesarean section.
Soon after birth her “bundle of joy” was taken away.
A few hours later a nurse assistant brought back the baby for breastfeeding, Raletaja says.
“I met my baby at around 9pm. It was the same baby I saw at the operating table. It was tall and had black hair,” Raletaja recalls, adding that the scars of the operation are yet to heal.
Raletaja claims that during breastfeeding she noticed that the baby was not wearing the clothes she had brought to the hospital.
“I did not take that seriously. I just thought the nurses had used the available clothes to cover the baby. I breastfed it. When it was asleep the nurse took him away.”
Her world however crumbled the next morning when a nurse assistant told her that her baby had died.
Raletaja says the nurse assistant told her that the baby had developed a heart problem soon after birth.
In disbelief, she asked the nurse assistant to bring the dead baby so that she could make sure that she had lost it.
Raletaja says she was shocked when she saw that the dead baby the nurse assistant had brought was not the one that she had held in her arms and breastfed the previous day.
She did not even recognise the clothes the dead baby was wearing.
“I did not believe what they were saying. I was shocked. It did not look like the baby I had given birth to.
“This one was smaller. The hair was fluffy,” she says.
Raletaja claims that a few moments later the hospital’s nursing manager, ‘Makatleho Makatjane, told her that the baby she had breastfed did not belong to her.
She says Makatjane told her that the dead baby was hers.
“Makatjane’s story was totally different from what the nurses had told me about how my baby had died. She told me with arrogance that to err is human,” Raletaja says, battling to contain her emotions.
“When I asked for tests to prove that the dead baby was mine she (Makatjane) told me that they were too expensive.”
Raletaja alleges that the information in her file is also wrong. “They kept on filling in new information on the forms. The new information was wrong”.
“According to the new information my baby went to ICU before I gave birth. The time was wrong. In the latest papers the doctors who operated did not sign. They started to make up stories. It was just a web of lies,” she says. Raletaja says her health deteriorated soon after she got the bad news.
“My blood pressure shot up. That place made me sick. I could no longer stand the sight of other women going and coming back with their babies. I thought it was best if I went home. The nurses had already started ill-treating me,” she adds.
The heart-broken Raletaja says she will not find closure until the hospital proves to her that her baby is indeed dead.
“I have a feeling that my baby is still alive. The hospital must prove that my baby died. I am not a fool. I saw the baby I gave birth to. It is not that little corpse they gave to me. They should give me my baby,” she insists.
The Sunday Express’ attempts to get a comment from the hospital management were not successful despite repeated efforts throughout the week.
On Wednesday the hospital’s information manager said she could not comment because the issue was related to clinical operations.
She however said she would pass our message to Makatjane whom she said would comment.
Yesterday morning this paper tried again to contact Makatjane but this time she was said to be off duty.
The official who answered the phone said she could not give out Makatjane’s mobile number.
She also said she was not sure who Makatjane’s assistant was.
This is not the first time that the new hospital has been in the news for the wrong reasons.
Just a fortnight after opening its doors the hospital allegedly refused to attend to an expecting ‘Metsana Rapotsane.
Officials allegedly told her that she could only be helped if she brought referral letter from her doctor.
This was despite that it was around midnight and she was already in labour.
Her relatives later took her to Qoaling Filter Clinic where she gave birth a few moments after arrival.
The Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital has replaced Queen Elizabeth II as the country’s only referral hospital.
With its world-class technology and equipment, the healthcare facility is supposed to be the country’s best hospital.