Creepy parasite in ‘Hartklop’ then true story


When a crawling parasite over dr. Elani Breytenbach’s (played by Simoné Pretorius) hand in the first episode of Heart beat ran, it was hard to wonder if this creepy storyline was fact or fiction.

This parasite was, as it were, based on a true story.

“The case in the first episode is possibly the strangest in the series, but it is true,” says Zoë Laband, the screenwriter of the series.

During the intensive research that Zoë had to do for the series, she came across the doctor who in real life encountered this giant parasite, which looks exactly like a shrimp.

“A woman, who looked pregnant, arrived at casualty and complained of cramps. They did a sonar, but could not see a fetus. An internal examination was carried out and the intern felt something running over her fingers, almost like an insect.”

“She could touch it, pulled it out and it looked like a shrimp. She had never seen anything like it before and sent it to the lab for testing, but it was lost and it was never found out what it was. The patient was treated for parasites and it helped.”

Simoné admits that she has a fear of needles and blood, and that scenes like this certainly did not make her fear disappear.

“The phobia is definitely better, but my fear of needles remains unaffected,” said Simoné.

Zoë explains that the production team wanted to show in a way how bureaucratic red tape is the reason why it can sometimes take months for anything to be fixed in state hospitals.

“While the series was being written, there was a fire at the Charlotte Maxeke academic hospital in Johannesburg and the psychiatric department had to be moved to the Helen Joseph hospital, but there was no room for them. Temporary facilities were set up, but there were, for example, no bathrooms to use,” says Zoë.

“Initially I was in Heart beat wrote that the water was cut off, but the producers said we couldn’t have a whole series of clogged toilets. We then decided on an electrical problem with lights not working. The camera crew hated us for it.”

The series is riddled with storylines and medical cases that are based on truths. The hospital scenes were filmed in halls and theaters at the Solomon Stix Morewa Memorial Hospital and at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

The series also features nursing professionals and medical doctors.

“Many of the people who were involved in this series are people who do it for a living,” said Christo Davids, one of the directors of the series, during Heart beat ‘s launch told RNews earlier this week.

  • Heart beat is broadcast on Tuesdays at 20:00 on kykNET (DStv channel 144) and will also be available on Catch Up.