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Woman demands compensation in womb operation gone wrong

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FILE PIC: High Court

A woman who was left nursing urine leakage after a womb operation went wrong has been given a chance to sue the state for her suffering.

Justice Isaac Lesetedi of the Court of Appeal last week ruled that the woman has to prove her case before the high court.

This was after the High Court rejected the woman’s application last year on the basis that she took too long before bringing the matter to court.

The contention by the High Court then was that the woman, whose identity has been protected by this publication, should have brought the case soon after she noticed the problem, back in September 2012 and within a three year period.

But Lesetedi dismissed the High Court ruling and sent the case back for proper filing and trial.

He based his ruling on the facts brought before him which proved that the woman had no knowledge of the cause of the urine leakage until much later.

“The period of prescription could not have started to run earlier than 18th September 2012 for even if it was to be argued that she might reasonably have been expected to have such knowledge earlier as was hinted at the appeal hearing, that too stood to fail as she acted timeously and persistently in a reasonable manner in a quest for the cause of her condition,” Lesetedi pointed out.

The background of the case is that the woman underwent a surgical procedure for removal of the womb in September 2012 at Sekgoma Memorial Hospital in Serowe.

After the procedure, she experienced urine leakage and she went to Princess Marina hospital in Gaborone on 3rd October, 2012 where a doctor told her that the fluid was not urine but rather just water from other body parts which have collected where the uterus was.

She was allegedly told that the condition was nothing serious as it would eventually go away on its own.

She added that antibiotics were then prescribed and she was told to return at the end of the month.

But when the condition did not improve, she visited a medical centre in Mochudi where she was told the condition could be a result of a cut bladder or ureter during the operation.

She was advised to go back to Sekgoma Memorial Hospital where the operation was done for correction of the fault.

It is her contention however that at the hospital a catheter was inserted without any explanation given to her.

She was later admitted at Princess Marina Hospital and discharged without any much change to her condition.

In December of the same year, she underwent an X-Ray examination at Sekgoma Memorial Hospital where it was discovered that her ureter had been cut during the operation.

After some time, her condition was finally treated in South Africa and she is now suing the state for failing to give her satisfactory care and timely diagnosis and treatment of her problem.

Her claims is for medical negligence and lack of proper post-operative care.

Litigating on the woman’s behalf was Kelly Kewagamang-Garebamono, of Gaborone based law firm; Rantao Kewagamang attorneys with the support of Southern Africa Litigation Centre.

Responding to Lesetedi’s judgment, Southern Africa Litigation Centre’s programme lawyer, Tambudzai Gonese-Manjonjo, stated that,” the case is a victory for women as the court has made it clearer and thus improved access to justice for women.These are common problems which women deal with. Medical issues are complex and many people are ignorant of them unless a doctor explains to them.”

She added that through this case, women have been given hope because “the court has explained here that the women have a chance to litigate and get justice on issues of sexual reproduction.”