Home at last after 113 day hospital marathon

Everson Luhanga

To the applause of the doctors, nurses and staff, Mbali Mbatha was wheeled out of the Netcare Milpark Hospital to start a new life.

After 113 days in hospital, the 27-year-old mother from Winchester Hills, Johannesburg, had

  • Experienced childbirth through C-section
  • Had a coma
  • Recovered from Covid-19
  • And had a lung transplant

The 29 weeks pregnant Mbali was diagnosed with Covid-19 on 23 November last year and was soon told the baby would be delivered by C-section.

“When I realised that I would not be able to carry full term I was devastated. I phoned my husband, Sizwe, who calmed me down and said I must let them take the baby out,” she said.

She remembers giving birth to baby Kuhle in the cold operating theatre and passing out.

“My husband could not be with me,” recalls Mbali.

She woke up to hear that she had been in a coma for two months and that she had had a lung transplant. 

“Had it not been for the exceptional medical care I received I would not be here today,” she said.

And then a further crisis struck.

“Mbali was in serious danger as both her lungs were affected from top to bottom with pneumonia,” said Dr Paul Williams, pulmonologist at Netcare Milpark Hospital.

“We immediately escalated her treatment.”

Cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr Martin Sussman, said Mbali was taken straight from the ambulance into the theatre where she was placed on machines which artificially maintain a supply of oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. 

“The treatment is essentially an artificial lung. The circuit does the work of the lungs and that is how we kept Mbali alive while she had Covid-pneumonia,” said Dr Sussman. 

But the treatment was not enough.

“Mbali eventually recovered from Covid-19 but her lungs did not recover,” said Sussman. 

So she finished her marathon in hospital with a lung transplant. 

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