Questions over NWU student’s fatal asthma attack

Mahikeng – A 21-year-old BCom student died of an asthma attack at the University of North West’s Mahikeng campus under circumstances that have left his parents wondering whether the institution could have done more to save his life.

As the world celebrates World Asthma Day on Tuesday, Senuku Metswamere is battling to deal with the loss of her son Paballo, who died at the campus’s security post where he had rushed when having the attack.

Allegations are that the campus’s first aid response car was called but took a while to arrive. Neither the car nor the security vehicle rushed him to the clinic, which is about 10 minutes away.

An official statement said Paballo died before anyone could do anything, and when the campus’s first aid vehicle arrived, he was already dead.

Senuku said the family were devastated by Paballo’s death and hoped more could be done by NWU to prevent further deaths.

“What bothers me is that there was a vehicle there that could have taken him to the hospital, but they waited for an ambulance – which took long,” Senuku told The Star on Monday.

Senuku said she received a call from Paballo that evening, asking her to bring him his spare asthma pump.

“It was already late and I knew he was studying, preparing for a test, and I didn’t take the pump to him,” Senuku said.

It seems Paballo’s condition worsened, but she missed his calls as her cellphone was on a charger.

“He called again and pleaded with me to fetch him. I arranged transport, but when I tried to call him back he wasn’t answering the phone,” she said.

On her arrival at the university, she found her son on the floor, surrounded by students and security personnel.

“I was told that the first aid vehicle was called but was not authorised to take him to the hospital and they had to wait for an EMS vehicle. At that point my son had already passed on,” she said. “My husband checked for a pulse but found none.”

She said three hours had elapsed since her son’s first attempt at getting help.

The 21-year-old was buried on Friday.

A student who preferred to remain anonymous said Paballo was not immediately taken to a nearby hospital by the institution’s first aid response team.

“Security called the university’s emergency personnel, but they took long and when they arrived, he had already passed on.”

NWU spokesperson Louis Jacobs denied any wrongdoing by the university, saying protocol was adhered to, and the university was not responsible for transporting Paballo to a hospital.

“An emergency vehicle was called to the scene while a provincial ambulance was also called to attend to the student,” Jacobs said. “But by the time the ambulances arrived, the student had passed on.”

He added that the loss of a student’s life, regardless of where or how it might happen, remained a tragedy to the university.

Source: The Star


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