Mom recalls a Valentine’s in HIV hell
27 October 2008
Valentine’s Day – eight years ago – is a day Ronel Moodie will never forget after she was told by a doctor that she was HIV-positive and only had a year to live unless she took anti-retrovirals.
Moodie, a 30-year-old Wonderboom South mother, was told a day and a half later that the diagnosis was wrong.
She stated in papers before the Pretoria High Court that for a day and a half she though she was going to die and “her world came to an end”.
She is still suffering from the consequences of the incorrect diagnosis made by a doctor at 1 Military Hospital.
Moodie claimed more than R800 000 in damages from the Minister of Defence.
The minister agreed to settle the claim and pay Moodie R100 000 in damages.
Her life turned into a nightmare on February 14 2000 – when she was only 22 years of age.
Moodie was ill for months during her second year at university and she eventually went to hospital for tests.
According to a medical report submitted to court, she was initially told she had cancer.
But she was then tested for HIV and Aids and told that she had tested positive.
Moodie stated in court papers that a doctor told her she only had a year to live if she did not undergo anti-retroviral treatment.
It was stated that “after the diagnosis of HIV was made, she was under the impression for a day and a half that she was going to die”.
Moodie stated that the wrong diagnosis caused her a lot of anguish and pain.
She blamed this on the hospital, whom she accused of being negligent because staff omitted to ensure that it was the correct diagnosis before telling her of her “fate”.
She also complained that the hospital omitted to first refer her for psychological counselling before “giving her the news of her status”.
Following the “devastating news about her status”, she was referred to a psychologist who had to take her through the various phases “before she died”.
But, she claimed, when it emerged that it was the wrong diagnoses, all therapy was stopped immediately and she did not receive any counselling.
It was stated that she was severely affected.
The psychologist said Moodie was told, following the verdict of “HIV-positive”, that she “had to marry as soon as possible as her life was short”.
Her husband, who was her boyfriend at the time, also had to undergo an HIV test.
The psychologist said Moodie and her then boyfriend were told by hospital staff that “one gets Aids when one kisses”.
“Moodie said that was the most terrible time of her life as it felt that her life stopped there.
“All her plans for the future came to an end as there was no future for her. She wanted to commit suicide,” the psychologist said.
Moodie said apart from not receiving any counselling from the hospital when she was “positively diagnosed”, nobody apologised to her when the mistake was discovered.
But, she told her psychologist, the damage had already been done as she had experienced the stigma of being HIV-positive and lost all her trust in doctors, hospitals and people in general.
Moodie told her psychologist that everything she did while she was under the impression that she was HIV-positive, was with the thought that “perhaps this will be last time I will be doing this”.
“The fact that she later heard that a wrong diagnosis was made did not take away the shock and trauma of this experience,” she said.
Moodie also said the wrong diagnosis was still on her medical records, which makes life difficult for her.
According to Moodie, she changed completely – before the incident she was an outgoing and sociable person, but she was now withdrawn and no longer trusted people.
Instead of Valentine’s Day being a happy event for her, it now reminded her of blood, Moodie said.
The hospital denied any wrong doing and said the correct procedures were followed at all times.
* This article was originally published on page 1 of The Pretoria News on October 27, 2008
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