Hospital blamed for paralysed toddler

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene ,

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After Baby Tovanse was taken to the hospital and injected to determine if he had meningitis.

After Baby Tovanse was taken to the hospital and injected to determine if he had meningitis. (Photo: Misiona Simo)

The family of a one-year-old toddler is blaming the country’s public health system for negligence resulting in their son’s paralysis.

Tovanse Meni of A’ufaga was born healthy last year until he became ill and was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted to the Moto’otua Hospital. 

His grandmother Toloa’i Meni is adamant negligence by hospital staff triggered his seizures and eventually led to him becoming paralysed.

“My grandson was six months old at the time when we took him to the Moto’otua Hospital last year because he had a very high fever. 

When we arrived at the hospital, the doctors told us at the time that he needs to be admitted because he’s got pneumonia and so we stayed there. After our week at the hospital he was then discharged and we came home,” she said.

“However, after couple of days we saw that there was no change at all then we took him back to the hospital. When we went there the second time and told them that there is no change at all from the first time he was admitted, the nurses at the time then said they needed to do some tests to see if he’s got meningitis.”

Toloa’i said she saw ‘unusual signs’ on her grandson after he underwent a test for meningitis, where nurses performed a medical procedure called a cerebrospinal fluid (C.S.F) collection, where they extracted fluid from his backbone to make a diagnosis.  

“I then asked them if this will affect my grandson, given that he is only six months at the time, but they said ‘no’, they only needed to get a small amount of water from his backbone so that they can run some tests to determine whether he’s got meningitis.”

Before Baby Tovanse was admitted to the hospital, he was healthy.
Before Baby Tovanse was admitted to the hospital, he was healthy.

Two days after the medical procedure was undertaken, the grandmother said her grandson started experiencing violent seizures. 

“He started having seizures and his arm and leg started shaking non-stop so I asked them and they said it’s nothing then they would do another injection to stop him from having seizures. From those seizures, I saw my grandson’s head was growing and his legs and arms started to get stiff and I asked them but they didn’t give me an answer.”

According to Toloa’i the hospital staff told her nothing could be done about her grandson’s condition and added that he should be taken abroad for treatment. Tovanse’s condition worsened, which led to the abnormal growth of his head and increasing stiffness in his arms and legs. Consequently, they sought the help of Vaito’elau Savusa Brown, an aunt to Toloa’i. 

“His head was enormous, his hands and legs were stuck together that I could not separate them and because his head was huge, we weren’t able to lay him down flat on his back because of his head. I couldn’t bend his hands and legs at the time and he would cry non-stop – even up until now,” Brown said.

“I brought him and I told them that we have to ask God through prayers and keep the faith because He is the only one who can save baby. At least now we can hear him but before we couldn’t hear his voice when he cried, but we can only see tears coming down but no voice. I told the family that I will massage him and at that time my faith in God was much stronger and I asked Him to help heal this baby.

Toloa’i said she still wants her grandson to be taken overseas to be checked to determine whether he can walk again. 

 “We really want to help him but in terms of finance it is very difficult and we can only hope and pray that someone would be able to help him,” she said. If you want to help Tovanse, you can contact his family on 7289153.

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