PRETORIA – SOUTH AFRICA – A Mayville resident in Pretoria West who lost his leg while transitioning from female into a male is not taking the matter lying down.
He is claiming more than R3 million from the MEC for Health after an operation to construct a male organ (penis) went wrong and cost him his left leg as a result.
The plaintiff refers to himself as a male in papers before the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria. The Pretoria News has opted not to name him to spare him any embarrassment.
The hardware store manager, 47, underwent a phalloplasty (construction of a male organ) in 2016 as the next phase of his female to male gender reassignment surgery at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
He told OgeneAfricansa he was advised by the doctors that he had to undergo the phalloplasty, with donor skin flaps that were harvested from his left forearm and left thigh. The operation was performed on July 26, 2016, by a team of several medical practitioners.
The operation lasted more than 11 hours and he was placed in the lithotomy position (on his back with hips and knees flexed) during this time.
He said after the surgery he experienced loss of sensation and pain and swelling in both his legs. He was also unable to move his toes.
The man said his complaints in this regard were ignored for hours after the operation.
However, doctors the next day performed a fasciotomy of his left calf – a surgical procedure to relieve the loss of blood circulation in his leg – which by that time was discoloured. This was due to compartment syndrome.
His left leg, however, had to be amputated above the knee a few days later.
The plaintiff said this was not the end of his problems, as his right lower leg also lost some sensation and he consequently developed a so-called drop-foot. He also developed pressure sores due to the intubation that was applied during the surgery.
This included a pressure sore to his nose, which damaged his right nostril.
He blamed all these complications on the staff at the hospital, whom he said were negligent.
He said he was advised to undergo the surgery but he was not told about the potential risks or told that there might be inadequate post-operative care.
The plaintiff blamed many of the complications he had suffered on the fact that he was in surgery for such a long time, in a specific position, while under general anaesthetic.
He said his leg could have been saved if the doctors and nurses had discovered the compartment syndrome in time.
He said he is now permanently disabled and disfigured and he is still suffering from psychological shock and trauma.
He has turned to court to ask for a default judgment against the health authorities to declare them 100% liable for his damages. This is after summons was served on them, but no one bothered to note whether they were going to defend the claim or not.
The court gave the State 10 days to serve its affidavit on whether it was going to oppose the matter or not.