“I will always be indebted to the service provided by HALC. The discrimination levelled at my deceased son was something that caused extreme sorrow for me and I would not have known how to deal with the situation. The excellent handling by HALC enabled me to ‘do’ something to question the discrimination. It was a long process but I had one layer of suffering lifted from my grieving process. Thank you HALC”.
All up, my legal case took 2 and a half years. I am a 56 year old mother of three adult sons, Nathan, Michael and Simon.
Nathan was the youngest, he died in hospital when he was only 29 years old. He was so happy and healthy the last time I saw him, then he rang me up from the hospital and said he went in because he had a fever.
I didn’t hear from him again – two days later he died and no one knew why, not his doctors, no one.
The hospital told us that an autopsy should be done to find out why Nathan died. We wanted an autopsy, all of us did. So I signed the forms and then the Department of Forensic Medicine tells me that they after they have cut him up for the autopsy, they won’t stitch him back. They said “you will get his body back in a body bag. It’s for safety reasons. You won’t be able to have an open casket funeral of course.”
We had to choose, at that awful time, between having an answer to how he died, but getting him returned to us in a body bag, or leaving a question mark over why my son died and refusing the hospital advice to have an autopsy. No one should be put in that place. Still today I don’t know why he died.
Why were we treated this way? Because Nathan was living with HIV.
Part II of Maree’s story tomorrow
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[all names and information that might identify any individual have been changed for confidentiality purposes]