IN an incident which has sent chills down the spines of many, a Dangamvura woman who failed to settle her hospital bills after a surgery at the Mutare Provincial Hospital was discharged with part of her removed uterus specimen, awaiting further tests.
Maria Chamisa, who stays in the N section of Dangamvura, narrated her ordeal to The Weekender as she was appealing for assistance to raise $400 — the balance needed after her operation and an additional $60 for the bed on which she was admitted.
“When I experienced severe and persistent spinal pains, I visited Dangamvura Polyclinic for treatment, but they referred me to Mutare Provincial Hospital where they told me that my uterus had to be removed as it was the cause of the pain.
“The operation was pegged at $800. Since my condition was critical they carried out the operation which was successful and I was allowed to pay half the amount, which I did. After the successful operation on February 3, I stayed in hospital for four days. They later brought a bill of $415 which was outstanding from which they demanded that I pay at least $50 in order to be discharged.
“I told them I did not have the money and they insisted that I pay $40 and settle the balance when I get the money. When they removed my uterus, they also cut a chunk from it which they said should go for tests. However, when they discharged me, they gave me this specimen saying I should keep it at home until I raise enough money for the tests. Since then I have been keeping it in a bucket because I don’t have the money at the moment,” explained Chamisa.
The 65-year-old Chamisa said a preservative was applied to the uterus to stop it from decomposing.
She said a month had lapsed since she was discharged from hospital and was wondering what she would do because she was still to raise the money needed to settle the hospital bill, let alone take the uterus specimen for tests.
“I am a widow. My daughters and I survive on vending since my husband’s death in 2002. My South African-based daughter Edith promised to send R1 000, so I am just keeping my fingers crossed that she will keep her word,” she said.
Manicaland Provincial Medical Director, Dr Patron Mafaune, said patients were not supposed to be discharged in such a manner.
Said the PMD: “I will have to look into that issue because I was not aware of it. As the public sector, we do not discharge patients in that manner. If you get down to the bottom of the matter, you might find out that the patient had reached some sort of an agreement with her doctor, especially if she was being treated privately.
“The doctor you are talking about is a private practitioner and so it is difficult to know what they agreed with her patient.”
When reached for comment, Dr Clara Jeketera, who is said to have done the operation, professed ignorance about Ms Chamisa’s case.
“I don’t know the person you are talking about. I only go to Mutare Provincial Hospital occasionally so I would have to sit down and check my notes to be sure about the person you are referring to. You will have to speak to the hospital medical superintendent to get more details of what happened.
“Under normal circumstances, the specimen is supposed to be sent straight to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals for tests,” she said.
Mutare Senator, Cde Judith Mawire, said this type of service delivery leaves a lot to be desired.
“Poverty should not be taken as a crime. We are going through tough economic times, but it is too harsh to discharge patients with their body parts after failing to settle hospital bills.
“Where exactly will she keep it safe? She has grandchildren, what if they take it and play with it? She is keeping it in a bucket in her living room and the condition is not conducive.
“It is a disaster and an unhealthy situation. I think the uterus was supposed to be kept by experts who know how to store the specimens.
“I will move a motion in Parliament about this issue because I am sure it is negligence on the part of the medical practitioner,” said Sen Mawire.
She later donated $40 aimed at settling Ms Chamisa’s hospital bills as well as testing the uterus specimen.