Longest recovering patient goes home

Zukiswa Maqana receives a standing ovation from Groote Schuur Hospital staff as she walks out of the hospital after fighting Covid-19 for 77 days.

Zukiswa Maqana walked out of Groote Schuur Hospital last week after a marathon 77-day battle with Covid-19.

One of the longest hospitalised Covid-19 patients in the province, hospital staff gave her a standing ovation as she left on Monday July 20.

Ms Maqana, 48, from Samora Machel, was admitted to the Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital on Monday May 4 with severe Covid-19 pneumonia and transferred to Groote Schuur the next day.

Groote Schuur Hospital spokesman, Alaric Jacobs, said Ms Maqana had immediately been admitted to ICU and intubated. She was on a ventilator for 51 of the 54 days she spent in ICU.

Dr Henri Pickardt, the hospital’s general surgeon, said her stay in ICU had been a rocky one, beset by complications and infections.

“Eventually, she left the ICU on Sunday June 28 and arrived in Ward F5. She could hardly talk or walk on arrival in the ward, but slowly grew stronger, as she was rehabilitated by physiotherapy and nursing,” he said.

She had also needed a four-week intravenous antibiotic course for one of her infections, he said.

Ms Maqana stays with her 28-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter and she works in Somerset West. Her mother from the Eastern Cape came to look after her daughter while she was sick in the hospital.

Ms Maqana said she was very grateful to the hospital staff who had looked after her.

“Everybody was so nice to me, and the doctors were wonderful, and I am so happy with the treatment I got at Groote Schuur.”

While in hospital she lost track of what day it was and couldn’t move for weeks.

“But they helped me learn to walk again after 77 days, and they were all so happy for me when I could go home.”

Dr Keith Cloete, the provincial Department of Health’s head of department, said: “We know our staff work under challenging circumstances during this pandemic, but it is heart-warming episodes such as this we have been privileged to experience which does so much to continue to inspire our staff to be on the front line in taking care of our patients.”