Tummy tuck op gone wrong leaves woman poorer after judge slashes pay­out

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS - ZELDA VEN­TER

THINGS have not ended up well for the Pre­to­ria woman who thought that hav­ing a tummy tuck op­er­a­tion would make her look slim­mer and im­prove hap­pi­ness lev­els.

Not only has Ju­liana Jou­bert had to live with com­pli­ca­tions fol­low­ing the op­er­a­tion, the Pre­to­ria High Court has now slashed the cash it had pre­vi­ously or­dered that she re­ceive.

To add in­sult to in­jury, Jou­bert will re­ceive less than what the doc­tor she had sued, had of­fered as a set­tle­ment.

The sur­geon, Dr An­dré Meyer last year of­fered Jou­bert a set­tle­ment of R480 000, al­though he made it clear at the time that he was not ac­cept­ing any li­a­bil­ity or wrong­do­ing on his part.

Jou­bert re­fused the set­tle­ment and in­sisted on more than R2 mil­lion.

After award­ing her R418 000, the mat­ter was back in court this week, as it ap­peared that the judge had made a mis­take with his cal­cu­la­tions.

He awarded in­di­vid­ual amounts for, among oth­ers, gen­eral dam­ages and for fu­ture med­i­cal ex­penses.

If all the amounts were cal­cu­lated, it came to R390 000 – R28 000 less than he ini­tially cal­cu­lated.

Act­ing Judge Ge­orge Av­vak­oumides rec­ti­fied the cal­cu­la­tion mis­take but he had more bad news for Jou­bert.

The judge pre­vi­ously or­dered that the doc­tor had to foot the en­tire le­gal bill for the trial, in­clud­ing the fees for the ex­perts.

This time around the judge de­cided that Jou­bert should pay the le­gal costs from the point when she re­fused the spe­cial­ist’s set­tle­ment of­fer to her.

The judge said he was en­ti­tled by law to re­think his costs or­der and he now de­cided that there was no need for the trial to con­tinue after the set­tle­ment of­fer and thus the doc­tor should not be out of pocket for that por­tion.

The Gaut­eng High Court, Pre­to­ria, earlier this year or­dered that Meyer had to pay 50-year-old Jou­bert R418 000 in dam­ages fol­low­ing her or­deal in 2011. Jou­bert had told the court that she was not only left with scar­ring, she also had to un­dergo two fur­ther op­er­a­tions as the wound after the first op­er­a­tion would not heal.

Ac­cord­ing to her, by the third op­er­a­tion she felt she was not “go­ing to make it”.

Jou­bert tes­ti­fied that when she ini­tially con­sulted Meyer, she was over­weight and she suf­fered from high blood pres­sure. He told her to come back after her blood pres­sure had nor­malised.

She later re­turned to him as she was pos­i­tive about the op­er­a­tion. Ac­cord­ing to her, the doc­tor told her she would look pretty again after the pro­ce­dure.

Her mother-in-law also had a tummy tuck years ago by the same doc­tor.

Two years after she con­sulted Meyer, she re­turned and he per­formed the op­er­a­tion, which she was told would last two and a half hours.

But four and a half hours later she woke up in theatre.

She said Meyer told her that he had re­moved 4kg of fat.

She was told the next day that she could go home. The stitches were re­moved 18 days later. Jou­bert re­turned to the doc­tor after 50 days when the wound did not heal.

She was told that Meyer had a heart at­tack and that a re­con­struc­tive sur­geon would take care of her.

The first op­er­a­tion the spe­cial­ist per­formed was not a suc­cess as she had two “holes” next to each other, which be­came one big hole.

Jou­bert had to un­dergo yet an­other op­er­a­tion where skin, ob­tained from the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria, was placed over the wound. This also did not work, as the “date on the skin had lapsed”.

New skin was ob­tained and placed over the wound.

Jou­bert said the wound only healed after six months.

Jou­bert blamed her or­deal on Meyer and said he should have given her in­for­ma­tion about the pos­si­ble con­se­quences of the ini­tial op­er­a­tion.

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