The Makhubalo family from Walmer in Gqeberha is demanding answers after their daughter died from septic shock, shortly after receiving her injected contraceptive.

The late 29-year-old Nompumelelo Makhubalo was injected at the Central Clinic in Gqeberha two weeks ago.  A week later she developed an infection at the injection site, which ultimately led to her death. The cause of death on the medical report says septic shock.

Nompumelelo had been using the form of contraceptive for more than a year. After the last injection, an infection allegedly wreaked havoc with her body. Her spouse, Maphelo Maphuza says they did not believe it when they were informed of her passing.

“We could not save her because her kidneys were failing, her blood was very weak, heartbeat was very low, blood pressure was very low. We were informed that she’s gone,” says Maphuza.

Infected wound

Nompumelelo returned to the clinic when the infection spread. The medical report states that the muscle was inflamed and there was discolouration and oozing at the wound site. Her brother, Dumisa Simama, says the Health Department has to answer.

“We want answers from the Health Department especially the clinic in central, that is stated on the health documents that she got the infection on the 20th of May 2021, when she was attended to. We are hurting because she had her whole life to live but was cut short because of negligence. We want answers,” says Simama.

Nompumelelo Makhubalo | Family seeks answers after death of 29-year-old:

Eastern Cape Health Department Spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, says they are investigating the matter.

“The alleged incident is unlikely to have been caused by simply the injection. We are now investigating the issue. The patient was also seen at Livingstone Hospital. We would need to first look at her medical record. Our position is that it is unlikely that the injection could have caused the sepsis,” says Kupelo.

Receiving an injection is a straightforward well practised medical procedure but the correct protocol must be followed as Dr Mthembeni Tebelele explains.

“When you are going to be injected there is something called an alcohol swab. We use that to clean the injection site to make sure that there is no bacteria. Then after that you inject. So you are reducing the chances of introducing bacteria that are sitting on the skin and then you give them access to the blood. Because you are breaking a protective organ called the skin. So chances are rare if the injection is given correctly. But you do get accidents, that is why there is a name called injection abscess. It’s possible to get an injection abscess,” says Tebelele.

The Eastern Cape Health Department is also struggling as it faces medico-legal claims against it amounting to more than R3 billion. The department says the high figure is driven by unscrupulous lawyers colluding with health workers.