- People stood stranded in Mahikeng due to the protests that had left it up in smoke
- The hospitals were under strain due to the protests and a selfless doctor took it upon himself to assist and deliver 8 babies
- Fellow doctors and citizens were extremely appreciative of his selfless act
Frustrated pedestrians without public transport stood stranded in Mahikeng. George Mothupi was no different standing amidst the barricaded roads, burning tyres and black smoke that dominated this area.
Residents were calling for the removal of North West Premier, Supra Mahumapelo whilst the headlines were screaming “Mahikeng is burning”. Mothupi could have stand home, safe behind closed doors and not contending with the turmoil on the streets. But this was not to be, come rain or hail, someone had to do it!
“The matron told me there was a patient who needed acute care. It was not going to be possible for the patient to be transferred anywhere with roads barricaded. A doctor was needed on site urgently,” Mothupi recalled.
In charge of the maternity unit at the Mahikeng Provincial Hospital, Mothupi a 43 year old medical specialist with over two decades of experience, could not ignore a frantic call from a panic-stricken matron.
With victimisation on the increase as the violent protests spread across the town, very few medical staff had reported for duty that day, making the hospital almost deserted.
Due to an earlier strike in the department of health, the hospital had already been under strain even before the protests began.
Thursday last week was a day that most doctors and nurses failed to reach their workplace due to all access roads been barricaded.
The hospital is on the other end of town and Mothupsi lives within walking distance of the Mahikeng CBD. Swapping his usual formal wear for a pair of jeans and takkies, Mothupsi started his long walk, leaving home just after 3pm, with only his cellphone in his pocket.
“Town was strangely quiet with all businesses closed. I decided to join a few others who were walking towards the hospital, but was worried about the protest-ridden Danville township between myself and the hospital,” he said.
Been fearful, Mothupsi suddenly had adrenalin rush through his body, giving him great mental strength.
“It was the adrenalin of the unknown. What’s going to happen when I pass Danville and on the other side? What’s going to happen to that patient if I don’t get there?
“I walked as far away from the crowd barricading the road as I could.” He said he arrived at a group of youths who had set up a “tollgate” and were demanding R10 to let people pass.
“I don’t know how I managed to pass that point without paying, but I did.”
Mothupi took just over 30 minutes to do the 3km walk. When entering his unit at the hospital, his face covered in perspiration and black ash from burnt out tyres covering his shoes, he sighed a sigh of relief, asking himself, how on earth did he manage to get there safely.
Without a minute to waste, an emergency Caesarean section was performed. Baby was delivered safely and the mother was now out of danger.
“I arrived on time. It could have been worse if time was wasted or I had decided not to come at all,” Mothupi said. Little did he know that his day was just beginning.
Within 4 hours of Mothupi arriving at the hospital, he delivered a total of eight babies, 3 of which were Caesarean births.
After all this, Mothupi could not go home. The situation outside was just not safe enough. Keeping him happy is the smiles he receives.
“What drives us is to see that smile on the patient. They’re dear to our hearts. Maternity care is something else because here we’re taking care of a pregnant mother and an unborn baby. I call them my cocaine. My patients make me the happiest man and there I was, mission accomplished, lives saved and babies delivered.”
With the adrenalin pumping, Mothupi had skipped lunch. Now that things had slowed down, he was feeling hunger pains creeping in.
“Tea and coffee were finished. Shops were closed and there was no chance of leaving the hospital premises given the unrest outside,” he said.
“I spent the night there, drinking water only. I went home around 11am the next day after some doctors and nurses reported for duty. I slept the whole day,” he quipped.
Would he do it again? “Definitely, I will. Luckily I do jog often which I think helped me a lot with that walk,” the soft-spoken doctor said without hesitation.
As Mothupi eventually walked out of the hospital, one of his colleagues ran up to him and thanked him for his dediction.
“I heard about what you did and I shed a tear. Thank you, doctor, thank you,” she said.
This brought a smile to Mothupi’s face.
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