A mother’s strength
In 2012, 26-year-old Khululwa Bam went into labour at the Site B Hospital Midwives Obstetrics Unit. When her water broke, a security guard at the hospital told her she had to clean up her mess before she could be admitted into the hospital, and handed her a mop.
Khululwa struggled for hours but didn’t have the strength to give birth. She asked if she could be transferred to Mowbray Clinic so that she could be assisted with the birthing process, but her request was denied. During this period, there wasn’t a single doctor at the clinic.
After hours of a fruitless pushing, one of the nurses administered an injection to help Khululwa give birth more easily.At 4 pm that afternoon, baby Solulele was born – weighing 3 kg which accounts for Khululwa’s difficulties in labour. When baby Solulele came into the world however, he was quiet. Concerned, the doctors ran a few tests and checked if Khululwa had a history of diabetes. She did not see her baby until much later, but they were both discharged the following day. A month later, Khululwa received a phone call from the clinic telling her that tests had indicated that Solulele was not well. She was referred to Mowbray Clinic, where he underwent more tests and was finally referred to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.
At the Red Cross, Solulele underwent tests with his 6-year- old sister to discern whether his illness was hereditary. They came back negative. For months, Khululwa and Solulele were in and out of hospitals trying to figure out why he was ill and what could be done. He was eventually diagnosed with severe brain damage and epilepsy.
During this time, Khululwa and her husband’s relationship started to take strain. Her husband could not deal with a physically disabled child and even suggested to Khululwa that they kill Solulele because he didn’t think he was going to make it. One afternoon, when Khululwa went to the shop leaving Solulele in the care of his father, she came home to find Solulele had fallen off the bed and was lying stiff on the floor, while his father ignored him,watching TV. At this point, Khululwa decided that she could no longer be with her husband; she needed to focus her energies on making sure her son received proper treatment. Khululwa applied for a disability grant, which allows her to take Solulele to the Red Cross Hospital at least seven times a month. She hasn’t missed a single appointment in her quest to keep Solulele healthy.