Updated 10 February 2015

Load shedding killed my baby

A young couple claim that their baby boy died in the Kimberley Hospital after the ventilator he was connected to stopped working during a power outage.

Die Burger (24 November 2014) reports that a young Kimberley couple are blaming load shedding and a faulty electricity generator for the death of their premature baby boy.

Underdeveloped lungs

Natasha Marits (24) is “reasonably certain” that her baby died after the Kimberley Hospital’s power generator stopped working during an Eskom load shedding episode on Saturday.

Eskom started load shedding on Friday throughout South Africa because of a shortage of 2 000 MW.

Read: How to survive load shedding

Sello Matsie, municipal spokesperson, confirmed that power to the hospital and surrounding areas had been switched off on Saturday between 14:00 and 16:00 The Northern Cape department of health however insists that the generator had not stopped working.

Baby Hermanus Petrus Wepener was born two months prematurely. He died in the intensive care unit of the hospital where he was being treated for underdeveloped lungs.

On Wednesday Natasha was sent from Postmasburg to the Kimberley Hospital where she gave birth. Her baby was immediately put on a ventilator and doctors assured her he would be able to go home on Monday.

Faulty ventilator

“On Saturday afternoon the power went off. The generator worked for a bit, but after a while I think it went off because everything went quiet. I hurried to the ward, but the doctor sent me away. They were busy to help him breathe with a manual pump and he was no longer attached to the ventilator.

Read: How does a ventilator work?

“Shortly afterwards he died. I could get no answers from the staff, but I’m reasonably certain the faulty ventilator had something to do with his death. “

Marits is currently being supported at home by André Wepener, her boyfriend and father of the child, and other relatives.   

Marits and Wepener are considering legal action.

Lulu Mxekezo, spokesperson for the department of health has expressed her condolences with the parents. She added that the doctors did their best to save the child. She also insisted that the hospital’s power generator had been in operation throughout the power outage.

Read more:
Shedding the load or passing the buck?
Kimberley woman undergoes heart surgery by accident
Premature babies at risk of poor health

Image: Baby on ventilator from Shutterstock


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