Legal action comes after young man loses leg due to ‘negligence’


At one moment, her son was still young and full of life.

But after he lost his leg, apparently due to a wound that became septic in a state hospital, he struggles with depression.

Elizma Visser sighs deeply when she tells about that day when her son, Rynard de Waal Silver, lost his leg at the age of 19.

Visser feels that De Waal’s leg could have been saved, had it not been for the negligence of the Ermelo provincial hospital in Mpumalanga. That is why they still want to take legal action against the provincial department of health.

Silver was involved in a motorcycle accident on 7 December last year.

“All he can remember about the accident is that one moment he was still on his motorcycle and the next he was under a bakkie,” says Visser.

She is a single mother and lives in Pretoria. It was therefore a huge shock for her when she received the call.

At that point, Silver’s employer was looking for him when he didn’t show up for work. They contacted Silver’s father and brother, who also live in Ermelo.

After a long search, Silver was found half unconscious in the hospital. Elizma rushed after her only to hear that her son had been diagnosed with an open fracture on his left mare.

However, the shocking news did not stop there.

According to Elizma, the hospital could not operate on the fracture due to a fault with the operating room’s air conditioning.

Silver was in hospital for six days and contracted an infection, says Elizma.

Rynard de Waal Silver, Elizma Visser, Ermelo, hospital, accident, medical negligence

She waits a moment and then takes a deep breath before she continues.

“He lay for hours with the open wound . . . seeing that wound almost made you vomit.”

The hygienic condition of the hospital also left much to be desired, says Elizma. Apparently she had to tread carefully to avoid stepping on used needles and says that at one stage there was no blood available for transfusions. The bedside clocks didn’t work either.

“I begged the hospital to close the wound,” she added, upset.

Silver was finally operated on after the six days, but it was not to repair the fracture to his leg.

It was a terrible day for her when she was told that Silver’s leg would have to be amputated above the knee.

After the operation, Silver’s brother discharged him and brought him home with a walking frame and a dose of Tramadol prescribed by the hospital.

But when Elizma saw the unbearable pain her son was in, she took him back to Pretoria with her to look after him full time.

“I brought him here to a proper wound nurse and after a month of treatment under her, the wound has recovered so much that he can now get around with crutches,” says Elizma.

Silver is also receiving physiotherapy at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

Then she sadly tells of Silver’s life before the accident.

Rynard de Waal Silver, Elizma Visser, Ermelo, hospital, accident, medical negligence

“He comes from a technical school, he doesn’t know about administration or office work.”

After school, Silver started installing security cameras, among other things. “It’s a physical job that requires both of his legs, I don’t know what he’s going to do now.”

She has meanwhile appointed a lawyer, because it is her plan to sue the hospital and Mpumalanga’s Department of Health for medical negligence.

“People must be warned, we can’t just leave it at that,” says Elizma.

The Department of Health was approached for comment but had not responded by Friday.