Probe into former cop’s ICU death
GENEVIEVE SERRA email@example.com
African News Agency
AN INVESTIGATION is under way after a former police officer and crime fighter died in hospital, just days after a successful bypass surgery. The family of Jannie Christiaan Ruppersberg from Schaapkraal, Philippi, have appointed a lawyer claiming that doctors at Melomed Tokai admitted his oxygen pipe had been disconnected for 15 minutes in ICU on the evening of May 8, following bypass surgery on the same day. The investigation is now in the hands of the hospital and police have confirmed a formal inquest has been opened. The family’s nightmare began on April 30, when Ruppersberg was rushed to the hospital and after numerous tests, it was confirmed that he was in need of a bypass. The family, who met with Weekend Argus on Friday, a day after a meeting with the hospital board, staff and management, said they were in possession of several video recordings where doctors admitted that Ruppersberg’s operation had been a success and that his oxygen pipe had become disconnected, resulting in hypoxic brain damage. An MRI determined that Ruppersberg had suffered brain damage. Police were called to the hospital on May 9 to form part of an forensic inquest. The video recordings will now become part of the family’s evidence. Group marketing manager for Melomed Shameema Adams said an investigation was under way. “Firstly, we express our sincere condolences to the family on the passing of Mr Ruppersberg. The surgical procedure involved is a very complex procedure where multiple factors can contribute to any outcome. We have not yet concluded the investigation as it is still under way.” Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk confirmed the investigation. Ruppersberg’s son, Jannie Junior, and his wife, Jackie, said they were informed that Ruppersberg’s operation had been a success and were told to go home on Saturday, May 8 because he was sedated and stable. “On April 30, he told me he had heartburn and I had just run his bath of water. I lifted his arms up and I had given him a heartburn tablet, he said he was cold and I knew something was wrong,” said Jackie. The family called an ambulance and he was immediately admitted to hospital in the ICU. “The doctor said that the scan had shown that the left side of the heart was swollen and we were impressed with their service at the time,” added Jackie. Jackie said their worst fears came true on Sunday, May 9. “I called the hospital at 11am and I asked if he was awake and if we could come and see him. The nurse on the other end said, ‘yes’ and mumbled to a colleague, ‘It’s the wife’. I immediately knew something was wrong. “Around 11.45am, the doctor called me. He said the ventilator pipe had come out and that they were concerned with a problem with the brain.” Jannie Junior said they immediately rushed to the hospital and began documenting everything on video, some of which they claim they made doctors aware of. “I made a video where the doctor told me that the bypass was a complete success. I asked how the ventilator came out and where the staff were as the machines will alarm. He said if it is 10 to 15 minutes without oxygen, it is fatal or brain damage. “He (the doctor) said they did not know how it came out (pipe) but that my dad might have moved it out with his jaw. “I asked why he was not strapped to the bed and he (doctor) said they do not practise there. “Another doctor who is in charge of the ward said he was worried that my dad had suffered hypoxic brain damage and that they had struggled for minutes to get the pipe back in. “But in the meeting they wanted to bring in statistics of what could happen after surgery and complications. “Our question to them is still how is it that my dad was without oxygen for 15 minutes and how did the pipe come out and why no one called the family? And now they want to say that was speculation.” The couple married 48 years ago and shared two children and grandchildren.