Making A Difference at Kalafong

The Carte Blanche Making a Difference Trust was launched on Carte Blanche’s 20th birthday. Five years on and many projects later, a much-needed paediatric burns facility has been opened at Kalafong Hospital.

The Carte Blanche Making a Difference Trust was launched on Carte Blanche’s 20th birthday. Five years on and many projects later, a much-needed paediatric burns facility has been opened at Kalafong Hospital.

Age Restriction: None
Duration: 09:04
Date: 22 Dec 2013

On the 16th of June, three-year-old Potego Lekwatsipa suffered third degree burns over 40 percent of his body. His mother, Daphne, blames her husband.

Daphne Lekwatsipa (mother of Potego): “He came home drunk and just started to shout. So, he took the primus stove… the heated primus stove, he wanted to put on my head, so I ducked. It came onto the side of Potego.”

Bongani Bingwa (Carte Blanche presenter): “He threw the stove at you?”

Daphne: “Ja, so he wanted to kill me, so the Primus stove just go to the side of Potego.”

Bongani: “So, where was he burned?”

Daphne: “I saw the fire went to his whole body. He was fighting, so I decided to seek the help. I managed to open the door, he pushed me outside. So when I called for help he just locked the door. That’s why my baby’s is burned so much.”

Bongani: “With him burning inside, he locked the door?”

Daphne: “Ja, ja.”

Daphne has not only had to deal with Potego’s lengthy recovery, but also, according to her, an act of violence by her husband, so she’s laid an assault charge. But to add insult to injury she’s now facing charges of attempted murder laid by her husband.

Potego spent four weeks in ICU at Steve Biko Academic Hospital. After three months he was transferred to Kalafong Hospital and became one of the first patients to be treated in the new paediatric burns wing. Kalafong Hospital is in the Western suburbs of Pretoria, servicing the community of Atteridgevile and surrounds. Affiliated to the University of Pretoria, this 1100-bed hospital is the latest beneficiary of the Carte Blanche Making a Difference Trust.

Bongani: “To date the Carte Blanche Making a Difference campaign has raised around R100-million to help treat children in public hospitals. It’s virtually unprecedented, but the more we’ve raised, the more needs we’ve identified. And today we’re here to help burn victims.”

A portion of Ward 3 was used to create a separate wing for the new burns unit. It has a shower bed and theatre light. There is enough storage space for all the dressings and other consumables, a vital signs monitor, a doctor’s office, a private ward – should the patient need to be isolated, as well as separate ablution facilities. It was a R1-million donation from Brown’s Jewellers to the Carte Blanche Making a Difference Trust that allowed this new facility to be built and equipped. Larry Brown explains his family’s motivation.

Larry Brown (Brown’s Jewellers): “We’ve had an experience where a relative of ours got burned and he never managed to get to a facility on time, and the facilities weren’t good enough and he passed away. So, this programme is really, really close to our hearts.”

But it also made good corporate sense, according to Lawrence Mamabolo.

Lawrence Mamabolo (Brown’s Jewellers): “You know, I think there’s such a huge perception that business and government can’t work together and we should actually be enemies, but this is a perfect example of how business and government can cooperate and benefit SA. This is a long-standing institution that’s going to help the kids of South Africa, which is amazing.”

10-year-old Jannie was accidentally burnt with petrol while helping his father fix a carburettor. He suffered third degree burns over 55 percent of his body and serious inhalation burns. After months in ICU at Steve Biko Academic hospital he was transferred to Kalafong to complete his recovery. He is making his way into the brand new Burns Dressing Room to have his dressings changed. Jannie is heavily sedated before being treated by Dr Ernst Muller, the Head of Paediatric Surgery.

Ernst Muller (Head of Paediatric Surgery): “This is now the shower bed, so we are happy that we have a shower bed now where we can shower the patients, and clean them in this bed.”

Bongani: “Where are the worst areas of his burns?”

Ernst: “His worst areas are now around the trunk. The rest has healed almost completely, but there are still some areas, as you see here, which are still not healed. It’s not big areas. He had skin grafts here but some of the skin grafts did not grow on completely.”

Bongani: “How often do you change the dressing?”

Ernst: “Usually every two to three days. Now you see, that’s why his wounds are not clean, that’s why we are going to shower him now.”

Bongani: “And you didn’t have the shower bed?”

Ernst: “No we didn’t have anything of that. We didn’t have the room.”

Bongani: “So, how would you have done this before?”

Ernst: “We did it in the beds.”

Bongani: “And to clean him?”

Ernst: “You see that was the problem; we couldn’t do it properly, so we had quite a problem with infected wounds, with skin grafts which didn’t take. So that now is much better.”

The room provides a sterile environment for the shower bed, and also doubles as an operating theatre where skin grafts are performed. Importantly, the entire wing is climate controlled through its own dedicated air-conditioning unit. This has micro and macro-filters to keep out bacteria and dust. It was paid for by the hospital, who gave their full support to the project.

Mogale Mothoagae (Hospital CEO): “We provided about R500 000 to ensure the aircon is in place; we provided for labour and plumbing and we also provided for labour for electrical works.”

Hospital CEO Mogale Mothoagae is thrilled with the results of this partnership with the Carte Blanche Making a Difference Trust. The half-a-million rand for the aircon came out of his hospital budget. He’s also budgeted for specialised burns dressings.

Mogale: “I’ve allowed even to experiment with some of the innovative products that we can actually make sure that the experience of the patients, or the pain, is minimised. So we are trying some of those types of products just to see whether we can improve what we’re doing.”

Ernst: “So this dressing is silver, and silver is a very potent anti-bacterial agent. I think it’s a big progress in burn wound care, these silver dressings. They are really making a difference.”

At a handing over ceremony the new burns dressing room was officially opened by the Gauteng MEC for Health, Mr Hope Papo, who coincidentally grew up in Atteridgeville himself.

Bongani: “Today is a happy occasion, but behind each little patient is a story of real trauma. Any sick child breaks one’s heart, but some of these injuries are literally gut-wrenching.”

Bongani: “I saw a dressing changed for the first time today, and it’s very difficult to watch.”

Daphne: “I was feeling the pain, but I told myself that I am his mother. I want to see my child healed.”

Potego is now well enough to be treated as an outpatient, and the new burns dressing room is expected to speed up the recovery of the 130 children that are treated here every year.

Ernst: “It’s more common when we have the cold season, so now it’s tapering off. But I think we still are quite busy. We still treat about 20 patients a month at the moment.”

Bongani: “Kalafong doesn’t only cater for Gauteng, but receives patients from other provinces. And because the recovery process from burns wounds is often lengthy, many of these little guys spend months without seeing their families.”

And so Brown’s Jewellers and Carte Blanche brightened up their day with gifts and well wishes.

Lawrence: “You know, what I wish is that we could just bring all of our staff here, because it’s such a touching feeling for us. I mean, walking around and being able to give these kids the gifts that we’ve given them and seeing how we’ve contributed to them being a little bit more healthier, to them being a little bit more stronger. One day these kids are the same people that might be standing here and contributing to the country. When you sign that cheque and you understand that there’s a little bit of emotion attached to it, it’s something more special than anything.”

Larry: “It’s really good for us to have been able to trust Carte Blanche to spend our money wisely. It’s important for us that it gets to where it has to go. And by being here, we’re seeing that it’s been spent well.”

Producer : Kate Barry
Presenter : Bongani Bingwa