Bontle (10) was born without an anus. Grandmother, Nelly, narrates that her granddaughter was born at home in Metsimotlhabe, but was later taken to Nkoyaphiri Clinic in Mogoditshane where a nurse attended to her and her mother. They were released later in the day and the nurse said all was well with them. However, the nurse had missed out on something; the baby did not have an anus. The mother only noticed this defect two days after being discharged from hospital. "Bontle's mother got a huge surprise when she found that the baby was passing stools through her vagina. We were all terrified and shocked," narrated an agitated looking Nelly.
When they discovered this anomaly, they immediately took the baby to the nearest clinic. The nurse who attended to them was terrified and hastingly referred the baby to Princess Marina Hospital, where surgery was immediately carried out. This, however, was not the end of their misery. After being discharged from the hospital two weeks later, the mother discovered that the baby still could not pass stools properly.
The stools were jammed at the opening and the baby was unable to push it out. The stools later started coming through her vagina again. "Doctors told us to put on a glove and pull the stools out of the opening they created but this did not help," she said.A year and a half later, the baby was taken back to hospital where she underwent a second surgery, which also did not bear any fruit.
"Doctors are aware the surgery did not help, but they are not telling us what we should do next, it has been 10 years now," narrates the grandmother. Though Bontle eats well, she has not grown fit and looks malnourished.However, she has not shown signs of any other illness.
At the age of 10, Bontle has not started school on account of the condition. Since the stools cannot be controlled, as her sphincter muscles also seem weak, the grandmother fears that the child might be victimised at school."Even here at home Bontle is victimised by other children. They laugh and mock her because she often smells of feaces. It is very sad..." Nelly said. Despite her condition, the child is eager to go to school, and apparently constantly asks her mother when she will begin attending school.
Surprisingly, social workers are not aware of Bontle's situation. Nelly says in the years they have not visited any social worker because the area councillor has always promised to help them. This has never happened. The said councillor could not be reached for comment. Nelly had also approached the Masitara Foundation, which also did not give much attention to the family. The family is now watching the baby grow with a condition that could be treated. "I have met about three mothers who told me their children also had the same condition. But they were all treated at Marina. I am wondering why my granddaughter cannot get help," retorted Nelly.
Princess Marina Hospital could not be reached for comment as the Public Relations Officer was said to be in a workshop. According to PubMed Health website, Bontle's condition is called an imperforate anus. This is a defect that is present from birth in which the opening to the anus is missing or blocked. The website states that the condition occurs when the rectum may end in a blind pouch that does not connect to the colon.
The rectum may have openings to the urethra, bladder, and base of the penis or scrotum in boys, or vagina in girls. There may be a narrowing of the anus, or no anus at all. The problem is caused by an abnormal development of the foetus. This condition occurs in about 1 out of 5,000 infants. The website suggests that most defects can successfully be corrected with surgery. Most children with mild defects do very well but may suffer recurring constipation.