‘Surgery from hell’ leaves woman without bladder

Lahya Shapaka

I am sad every day and nobody wants to help me.”

These are the words of Lahya Shapaka (43).

“I can no longer be with people because of my bladder injury,” she says.

Shapaka says her bladder was cut during an operation to remove tumours on her uterus at Oshakati Intermediate Hospital on 27 July 2022, forcing her to wear nappies.

Since then her condition has worsened and she says she has experienced frequent mistreatment from medical staff at the hospital.

Shapaka says her nightmare started on 27 July when she was taken to an operating theatre.

“The following day, I was in a pool of urine when I woke up,” she says.

“A doctor, who was part of the operating team, entered the room and looked scared. I asked him why I was in a pool of urine and he just quietly left,” Shapaka says.

She kept asking, but no one answered her questions, she says.

“Life changed completely,” Shapaka says.

She says she has been using nappies as a way of containing the situation, however, the hospital never assisted her with any.

“After four days, a doctor came to me. He was not part of those who operated on me. He consoled me and told me the reason I was in a pool of urine is because my urinary bladder was cut,” she says.

Shapaka was taken back to the theatre on 3 August 2022.

Since then, Shapaka says she has been for follow ups, but the situation only got better on 10 May 2024, when she was referred to Windhoek Central Hospital for another surgery.


Shapaka says after her third operation last month, she was prescribed a medication called Vesicare.

She says her first round was bought by a family member for N$900, but he cannot afford to constantly help her.

“As we speak, those tablets are finished. They used to ease my pain,” she says.

Shapaka says she survives on a government disability grant of N$1 400.

Shapaka is calling on good Samaritans to assist her with either medication or nappies.“I do not know whether I will be healed one day, but I think this is permanent damage . . . The doctors at the Oshakati hospital told me that I cannot be compensated because I signed [a document] before getting the operation,” she adds.

Oshakati West constituency councillor Aram Martin says he is not aware of Shapaka’s situation.

However, Martin says if she was a drought relief beneficiary before, she must visit his office for assistance.

Ministry of Health and Social Services executive director Ben Nangombe says the matter has not reached his office, however he will follow up on it.

He says there is a charter in hospitals that says all patients and visitors must be treated with kindness, compassion and dignity.

“Why mistreat someone who is already vulnerable in a manner that worsens the situation they are in already? It’s unacceptable,” he said.
Nangombe encourages those visiting health centers with medical staff mistreating patients to report them.

“If this woman knows their names, we will deal with them accordingly. We cannot have bad apples who are trying to drag the good name of the ministry in the mud,” he says.


Oshana regional health director Johanna Haimene says the case is well-known by the directorate and has been taken up with the highest office for the proper actions to be taken.

“The hospital, the region and the ministry have taken appropriate actions towards the matter,” she says.

Oshakati Intermediate Hospital superintendent Ruben Kanime says he is not aware of the matter.

“It hasn’t reached my office yet. It is my first time hearing it,” Kanime says.

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