Nomaphelo - the story of a courageous mother

Some endings are happy - Iviwe and her successful liver transplant

Nomaphelo – the story of a courageous mother
By Nomaphelo Eunice Nomala

I am Nomaphelo
I am Nomaphelo Eunice Nomala.
I am 34 years old. Born in CapeTown.
I am a single mother. Disabled. Two children.
My son is Lihle Anthony, who is 5 years old
and Iviwe, my daughter, is 2 years old.

IVIWE
Iviwe was born on the 24th of December 2014
in Mowbray Maternity Hospital in Cape Town after 36 weeks.
Her birth weight was 2.560 kg.
I stayed two weeks there because I gave birth with an operation.
After I went home with her,  I took her to the clinic in Nyanga to get her injections
I went once per month and also at nine month for the injections.
She was fine except for the fact that  her eyes were yellow all the time.
But I didn‘t notice anything wrong with her.

YELLOW EYES
When she was about 6 month I noticed that her eyes became more yellow. However I still thought there was nothing wrong with her because we had been going to the clinic all the time to get her injections. They didn‘t say anything about her eyes. One day one of the nurses asked me, why her eyes are so yellow? I just answered that I didn‘t know – because she was born like that. After that, I thought the nurse was going to check her but she didn‘t.

SWOLLEN EYES
When Iviwe was 8 month old on 13th August 2015 in the afternoon I saw her eyes were swollen. So I took her to Nyanga Clinic where I used to go with her. I told them what I saw in her eyes. They told me nothing is wrong with her eyes. Its only an infection of the eyes. So they just gave me something against the infection. I went home with that medication. On Sunday late on the 15th August 2015 while I was washing her she was crying and I worried about her big stomach.

BLEEDING EYES
When I put a face cloth on her face I saw that there was blood coming out of her eyes. My first thought was that she scratched herself, so I wiped it out with the face cloth. But then more bloody tears were coming out. So I took her to Gugulethu Day Hospital and this time the staff was laughing – it was like I made a joke! They didn‘t see anything wrong with my child. They asked “where are the tears of blood?! we want to see first!“ I was very upset about that – even the doctor took long to see us and it felt like its not serious to them. They also gave me the same thing I already got at the clinic.
I asked them if they can transfer me to Red Cross Children Hospital but they said “No! Only serious children can go there.“
I went home so upset and told myself I won‘t go there again.    

COURAGE INSTEAD OF A LETTER

On 2nd september 2015 I decided to come to Red Cross emergency unit
without a letter. I came to Red Cross Hospital, the nurse asked me “Do you have a letter?“ I said “No.“ “We can‘t treat you then, I am sorry.“  But then I answered: “I won‘t go anywhere. I will sit on that chair until the doctor comes to ask me why I am sitting here.“ A male nurse asked me “What is wrong with the child?“ I only showed him the eyes and he asked me to come in. He observed the child and told me I must open the folder while waiting for the doctor. The doctor came to me and asked “What is wrong with her?“
I told the doctor about the eyes so he told me:   “Your child is very sick. She is dehydrated and there is not enough blood. She has got less time to live.“ They suspected a liver problem and they admitted her to S-Level. So I knew I won‘t go home that day, 11 doctors admitted me and her for further investigations and they were very supportive. They gave me hope.

HOPELESSNESS
When I was in the ward one of the doctors told me that they don‘t have hope, she will be dead in less time. I was crying and praying and didn‘t know what to do. But I was glad, that they gave her treatment.
They told me about her condition and I could only pray for my child to get better. After a month I could see some changes. They kept her on treatment
because she was on the waiting list for the liver transplant and there was a long list of sick children waiting for a liver transplant.
One day she vomited blood and I found bloody poo in the toilet, so it got worse with her. Another day Iviwe was crying during the night. She had lots of water in her stomach and she was breathing fast. I could see the veins in the stomach and the water came up and blocked the chest but I had to wait till morning.

TRANSPLANTATION OF HOPE
Then the day came when all my hope was back:  Because of her condition they decided to take her FIRST! What a miracle was going on here!

THE BIG DAY AND THE DAYS AFTER
At an appointment they noticed that she was bleeding inside so they decide she must get the surgery as soon as possible. On the 21st of April 2016 she was incredibly lucky to get the donor of a liver from a 4 year old boy. When she went to operating theatre I felt happiness and nervousness because it was the first time for her to get an operation. I was hoping everything is going to be fine so I asked the doctors “How long will the operation be?“ They told me it will take many hours so I was scared and hoping I‘m strong enough. The moment she came out I was so happy and excited to see her.
Then she went to the ICU ward. When I went there to see her she was surrounded by lots of machines and nurses. She struggled to breathe. Everytime I went to see her I found nurses looking after her day and night. She was in good hands and care until she went back to the ward.
Also in the ward the staff was wating for her with warm hands.
She was sleeping at E2 ward all the time.

When we went back to the ward she was going into a single room to stay alone with me because she couldn‘t stay with other children in the room because of infections from others. In the room she was staying she had a bed for herself and mom also got a bed to sleep next to my child. We watched TV in the  room. The room was being cleaned every day. The nurses looked after her well, they even gave her medication on time and food. Doctors were looking after her all the time. They did the best for her to be fine. Thank God that her body accepted that transplanted liver. She is very happy now and her eyes are back to normal like other children. She loves talking and walking around. I love my child very much.
I pray that God may give her much more life…!

I stayed here from march until November 2016. She was breast feeding and she was really enjoying the breast. Sometimes she is still getting hyperactive because of the treatment. On the 15th of May this year (2017) I had to take her again to Red Cross because the liver got infected and her eyes were
yellow again. So, the journey is still ongoing but I am hoping and praying that God will heal her. At the moment, I am also struggling to find a better home that will meet Iviwe’s needs. There is no water and no toilet at my place in Khayelitsha. Life is not easy for me but I will try my best to give my children
a better life than I had as a child.

I WANT TO SAY THANKS

To E2 ward! (Red Cross Children‘s Hospital)
It is the best ward. They gave good care to my child and even to me. Its like I feel it is a home more than at hospital.
I would like to thank the staff of E2 ward for helping my child.  I love your staff and I wish you all the best.

To Paedspal!
I met people from Paedspal at that time I was so stressed about my child‘s condition after the transplant she had.  They gave me big support. Now my child is in a good condition because the transplant was successful and Iviwe is playing very well with other children and is communicating with them in a nice way.  I want to say to all people from Paedspal: THANKS!