Parents blame community health centre for child’s TB meningitis

Ayesha and Faghmi Ryklief hold a photograph of their daughter Imaan, 1, who is in Brooklyn Chest Hospital.

One-year-old Imaan Ryklief from Tafelsig has a feeding tube in and “just lies” at Brooklyn Chest Hospital months after being diagnosed with tuberculous meningitis at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in October last year.

Imaan Ryklief, 1, at Brooklyn Chest Hospital, in Ysterplaat.

Her parents Ayesha and Faghmi Ryklief are at their wits’ end. They say Imaan did not receive the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine, primarily used against TB, when she was born on March 15 last year.

The space confirming that it was administered is blank in her “Road to Health” booklet – the clinic card that documents the milestones and vaccines children are due to reach and receive.

Ms Ryklief said Imaan is up to date with all of her vaccines but did not receive the BCG vaccine.

“She was a healthy, smiling and playful little girl, who wiggled around until about six months, when she had a runny tummy and was vomiting,” she said.

Imaan Ryklief the day before she was admitted to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

She took Imaan to Tafelsig clinic and to the MOU, where they chalked it (her symptoms) up to teething.

Ms Ryklief said then about a week or two later, Imaan’s neck pulled stiff and she rushed her to Red Cross on October 1.

“That same day she was admitted, they operated and drained fluid from her brain.”

Here she had two operations before being transferred to Brooklyn Chest in Milnerton on November 9.

Mr Ryklief said his daughter’s hospitalisation and his inability to get off from work frequently, cost him his job.

He said they were unable to care for Imaan when she returned from hospital to the wendy house in which they live in his parents’ backyard.

“All we want is for the hospital to take responsibility for their negligence and ensure that this does not happen to another child,” said Mr Ryklief.

The Rykliefs said they barely visit their daughter because it cost them R200 to get to her with public transport, from Tafelsig to Milnerton.

Ms Ryklief said: “My daughter is never going to be the same again.”

She said she submitted a complaint in writing but cannot remember when but that staff at the MOU have spoken to them.

Mr Ryklief said the MOU did them a disservice and that they were not addressing the issue at hand. “Nothing they can do, will bring her back or make her the same. She has to go back to Red Cross for an operation, so she can eat and she will eventually need a wheelchair,” he said.

He said they did not receive counselling from the MOU and that there is no case number, registering their complaint and how the matter would be resolved.

Mamakopo Jeaneth Mathebula, a social auxiliary worker who met the Ryklief couple at the Tafelsig clinic in September last year, said the family needed help.

She said they approached various lawyers but no one wanted to help them.

Ms Mathebula said there were so many cases of people who were born healthy and became disabled because they did not receive better healthcare. “We would not have as many disable people if poor people had access to healthcare and were helped when they needed it,” she said.

The Ryklief couple also sought counselling with Mitchell’s Plain Network Opposing Abuse.

According to their counselling or court referral letter they need help “with an alleged negligence claim by the Department of Health”. “Mr Ryklief has documents with regards to the case,” read the letter.

Another letter from the network states that they need legal or paralegal services.

Maret Lesch, the provincial Department of Health assistant director of communications, said they were aware and actively involved in Imaan’s case and is in regular contact with the family about her condition and proposed treatment options.

“We have provided more than one counselling session and give regular updates to the family.

“We will continue in their support while Imaan’s treatment options are discussed with the family and she continues her treatment,” Ms Lesch said.