The death of 10-year-old Zayyaan Sayed has stirred a controversy that is centred on paediatric surgeon Dr Peter Beale and anaesthetist Dr Abdulhay Munshi.
Zayyaan underwent a nissen fundoplication procedure at Netcare Park Lane Clinic earlier this month, but never made it out of the hospital.
Nissen fundoplication, also referred to as a Lap Nissen, is a laparoscopic procedure performed for patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
He died post-op, leading the hospital to suspend both doctors from all Netcare facilities.
The family now intends to pursue criminal charges against the two as well as applying to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) to have them suspended pending a hearing to revoke their licences.
Earlier this year, News24 reported on Lisa Strydom, a mother who lost her one-year-old girl after the same nissen fundoplication operation was performed by Beale.
Many more parents have approached News24 to give their account of what happened to their little ones and experience with Beale.
Thuso Mokoena’s six-month-old child allegedly died after Beale replaced his gastronomy tube, a feeding tube inserted through the stomach, with a mickey button.
He said he was shocked to find that the procedure took no more than 10 minutes.
“He just pulled out the feeding tube and then he just left,” Mokoena claimed. “He pulled it and not even gently, he just pulled it and left, and the baby cried … he cried until he was exhausted.”
When Mokoena and his wife took their baby home the same day, he was still crying until he died later that day.
In a letter to the family, Beale said it was an unexpected event, adding that it was not a result of negligence.
Mokoena said interacting with Beale was difficult as he was afraid he would lose his temper.
“He is a very bad-mannered doctor … he doesn’t care,” he claimed. “He is on another level.”
Rene Moorcroft’s 12-year-old daughter, Monique, suffered with hirschsprung disease. After a series of minor procedures, Monique went in for a final surgery with Beale last month.
Moorcroft said: “I don’t know what went wrong because she was fine the whole morning after the surgery, even out of sleep, and just after 16:00 she had difficulty breathing and then she passed away.”
She added that no one could tell her what had happened.
The family is still waiting for a cause of death.
Moorcroft said it was difficult to understand Beale as he apparently does not communicate well.
“He doesn’t talk much, it’s like you have to drag things out of him. He doesn’t communicate well … he doesn’t speak out and say what’s happened so you know and then you’re puzzled about what’s going on,” she added.
Gross negligence case
Iqbal Allie, another parent who lost his child, said his daughter was supposed to go to Beale for a biopsy on her thyroid to examine the tissue.
It was only a few months down the line when he noticed his daughter becoming “cretin” when another doctor pointed out that there was no activity in her thyroid, which Beale had removed, Allie said.
She is now permanently on growth hormones.
After the incident, he and his family sued for gross negligence and won.
He too allegedly had problems dealing with Beale.
“Initially, he was okay, he was a bit arrogant but he wasn’t rude,” Allie said.
“He had an arrogancy about himself, he said he was the best endocrinologist or paediatrician in the world. So now I want to ask him which planet was he talking about?”
In reply to News24’s questions, Beale’s lawyer, Jeanne Albertse, said: “Prof Beale would like to assure patients that he has always consistently striven to maintain the reasonable standards expected of him as a paediatric surgeon in his medical management of patients and shall continue to do so going forward.”
Mohammedh Sayan, Zayyaan’s father, who is freshly grieving the loss of his son, said patients should not be made to feel like doctors were doing them a favour.
“When you think of a doctor, you couple them with saving lives, you couple them with being compassionate, with having love for children and patients in general.
“You don’t expect them to be rude, arrogant. You don’t expect them to think that they are doing you a favour because they’re actually not.
“They’re supposed to be doing a service to humanity, especially when they took the oath,” he said.