Zuliswa Maqana danced on her way out of Groote Schuur Hospital after spending 77 days being treated for Covid-19 — at times barely able to talk or walk.
The 48-year-old mother is one of the longest hospitalised Covid-19 patients across the provincial public health service in the Western Cape.
The recovery period for people with “mild” bouts of Covid-19 can last between 10 and 14 days. Maqana’s journey to recovery was akin to running a marathon.
“It was a rocky course through the ICU with complications and other infections along the way,” said Dr Henri Pickardt, general surgeon at the hospital.
Maqana’s battle against the virus intensified when she was admitted to Mitchells Plain district hospital on May 4 with severe Covid-19 pneumonia, the provincial health department said in a statement on Wednesday.
The next day she was transferred to Groote Schuur, admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), intubated (a tube was placed down her throat, into the windpipe to make it easier to get air into the lungs) and ventilated for 51 days out of her 54 days in ICU.
“Eventually, she left the ICU on 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.
“The medical care received transformed her into the radiant patient who danced out of the hospital on July 20. One of the infections she had required her to complete a four-week intravenous antibiotic course,” said Pickardt.
Zuliswa works in Somerset West and lives in Samora Machel with her 29-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter.
“Everybody was so nice to me and the doctors were wonderful. I am so happy with the treatment I got at Groote Schuur. I didn’t know what day it was [when I entered the hospital] and I couldn’t move for weeks. But they [hospital staff] helped me learn to walk again after 77 days. And they were all so happy for me when I could go home, said Maqana.
Head of department, Dr Keith Cloete said, “We know our staff work under challenging circumstances during this pandemic, but it is heart-warming episodes such as this and all the other wonderful stories we have been privilege to experience which does so much to continue to inspire our staff to be on the front line in taking care of our patients.”
TimesLIVE reported earlier in July about the road to recovery from Covid-19 travelled by Robson Shaby, who underwent three months of treatment at Victoria Hospital.
Among other things, his treatment included health professionals making a hole in his neck to help him breathe.
Shaby, who is arguably the Covid-19 patient admitted to hospital for the longest time in the Western Cape, has now made a full recovery. His stay at the Victoria Hospital pushed medical staff to explore unknown medical territory to save his life.