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Hospital gives mother wrong baby to bury

The trauma of a mother whose baby was stillborn was compounded two months later when the hospital said she had been given the wrong baby to bury – and asked her to return to identify the body of her own baby.

The pregnancy of Itumeleng Baloyi (27) from Limpopo, had progressed well until the eighth month, when her local clinic referred her to Matlala Hospital in Marble Hall after nurses discovered the foetus had no heartbeat.

A sonar scan at the hospital confirmed the devastating news, reports TimesLIVE.

“The doctor suggested I could get a second opinion from a private doctor if I had doubts, but I declined,” she said.

“The next day he did another scan, and it reaffirmed the diagnosis. They gave me pills to induce labour and I was discharged, with the baby, who was buried that same day.”

But just four days later, the hospital contacted her aunt to say it had given the family the wrong baby to bury.

“My aunt told the hospital to take care of the burial as she’d paid for the first one, and they agreed. Then they asked me to return to the hospital to confirm the other one was indeed my child, so I did that.”

The hospital said it would arrange to exhume the first baby’s body from her family’s gravesite, but this is yet to happen.

Officials initially suggested she leave the body there as it had already been buried, but this was vetoed by her aunt.

Baloyi said the family has struggled to get answers on the exhumation process. “When my aunt phones, they tell her the matter is being handled at a higher level.”

Limpopo Health spokesperson Neil Shikwambana confirmed the mix-up to TimesLIVE, saying officials had become aware of it days after the first baby was buried.

“The hospital … took full responsibility for the burial costs for the right body. Furthermore, it arranged for the mother to be seen by a psychologist to help her to deal with the trauma.”

On the delays in exhuming the first baby’s remains, Shikwambana said this was because this was “governed by legislation involving other stakeholders, like the municipalities and justice”.

“An exhumation application has been lodged by the hospital, and engagements are ongoing between authorities and traditional leaders.”

Shikwambana was unable to comment on what, if any, disciplinary action would be taken over the mix-up.

“We cannot pre-empt the outcomes of the consequence management process at this stage,” he said.


TimesLIVE article – Limpopo hospital mix-up leaves mom with double trauma of burying two babies (Restricted access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Ekurhuleni hospital allegedly gave mother wrong baby to bury


Bara newborn sent home with wrong mother


Baby mix-up – Durban hospital staff disciplined


Newborn baby to be exhumed for DNA testing over 'mistaken identity'

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