The Gauteng health MEC will have to cough up almost R11.4 million for the gross negligence of staff at Natalspruit Hospital which caused a prematurely born baby boy to become blind.
Judge Cynthia Pretorius granted an order in the High Court in Pretoria in terms of which the MEC agreed to pay the amount, which is to be administered by a trust on behalf of six-year-old Frank Molima of Vosloorus.
The MEC will also have to pay the costs of 13 experts and the legal costs of the case. The boy’s attorneys are entitled to 25% of the award.
Molima was in 2011 born prematurely at 28 weeks at the J Dumane Clinic in Vosloorus, weighing only 1.4kg. He was immediately transferred to Natalspruit Hospital, where he was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit and put on oxygen.
He was discharged 18 days after his birth, but was only diagnosed as blind eight months later.
According to court papers, he received unblended oxygen at excessive concentrations for too long and staff did not properly monitor his oxygen levels in terms of the national guidelines for the prevention of blindness in premature babies, resulting in a condition known as retinopathy of prematurity.
The MEC has conceded full liability for the boy’s damages.
Molima’s mother, Nina Samsadin, instituted a damages claim of over R20 million but abandoned her son in 2013, leaving his unemployed father, Morris, as his only caregiver.