Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Baby swap inquest opens

By Leonard Ncube

Two medical doctors in Victoria Falls have given contrasting reports of circumstances around alleged baby swapping at Victoria Falls District Hospital as an inquiry into the matter opened on Friday.

A post-mortem done at the United Bulawayo Hospitals also gave a different version stating that the two-day old baby died of head trauma and central nervous lesion.

The hospital launched an investigation after a couple, Mr Faison Nyathi and wife Ms Juliet Dube, alleged that a nurse aide Ms Abigail Moyo had swapped its baby boy with an infant’s corpse to cover up for negligence.

Ms Dube (22) of Mkhosana suburb gave birth to a baby boy on August 27 and said she was shocked when the nurse aide told her two days later that the infant had died.

A probe team from the Ministry of Health and Child Care led the inquiry on Friday with four nurses involved in the matter being interrogated. They said they were living in fear after receiving death threats from members of the public who accuse them of being killers.

A Dr Gwenhamo from The Health Bridge Hospital who delivered the baby and Dr Selleman Saidi who is acting District Medical Officer stationed at the institution were also called to give reports on the issue.

The family was in the company of lawyer Mr Givemore Mvhiringi of Mvhiringi and Partners.

Dr Gwenhamo who had been invited to deliver Ms Dube’s baby through a Caesarean operation in the absence of a doctor at the main hospital, said the baby was born with a foul smell while its umbilical cord was rotten.

However, Dr Saidi certified that the baby was in good health at birth, in contrast to Dr Gwenhamo’s account.

“The smell wasn’t from the baby but from the mother’s placenta which had burst before delivery. The umbilical cord had no infection and I don’t know where this came from,” said Dr Saidi who examined the baby a day after it was born.

He however, said the post-mortem report was not exhaustive hence the pathologist should explain to bring closure to the issue.

Dr Saidi ordered the post-mortem following the sudden death of the baby he had certified to be healthy a day earlier.

The baby’s parents dispute the nurses’ account that the baby’s temperature was 40 degrees Celsius, swollen on the forehead and back of head, underweight (2.067kg) and not breastfeeding.

They suspect foul play saying the nurses identified as Sister Lloyd Garura who was nurse-in-charge when the baby was born, Sister Mlambo who helped Dr Gwenhamo with the operation, Sister Ncube who received the baby and Ms Dube the nurse aid swapped their baby with a corpse of a baby who had died on delivery as the nurses allegedly ignored the mother while in labour.

“One wonders why a post-mortem was ordered if the baby died due to natural causes. We want to know why the doctor who operated on her didn’t immediately start medication if there was a problem than to wait for it to get worse.There’s no consistency in the two doctors’ observation. “One said the baby had a foul smell and the other one said he was well. We are not happy with Dr Gwenhamo’s statement that he was just helping voluntarily because he doesn’t work here, it’s as if he does careless work when not paid,” said a family member.

Mr Mvhiringi concurred that the post-mortem is not exhaustive.

In their testimonies, the nurses said Ms Dube was not cooperative when they advised her to breastfeed the baby. The nurse aide said she took the baby away when she found Ms Dube sleeping on the bed facing away from the baby who was facing up with mouth wide open and temperature high.

Ms Dube disputed this and alleged that hospital staff withheld all health cards hence the suspicions.

Sr Garura said the baby had developed jaundice and was not breastfeeding and for five minutes they tried to resuscitate him but failed.

The family wants DNA tests done and has mobilised money with the help of residents. The Chronicle