Port Elizabeth man celebrates life after a month in ICU due to Covid-19

Singing with physician weeks after dire prognosis

Wednesday, September 2 2020

Nceba Zengetwa of Port Elizabeth considers himself to be one the most fortunate people alive. He spent a month, including his birthday, fighting for his life in ICU at Netcare Greenacres Hospital after contracting COVID-19, only to beat the odds and make it safely home recently.

Pic: Mr Nceba Zengetwa (right) of Port Elizabeth pictured shortly before his discharge from Netcare Greenacres Hospital, with physician Dr Piyush Meel.  

“I don’t remember anything of the time I was under ventilation but I understand from my wife that medical staff had at one point prepared her for the worst. That’s how serious it was,” said 46-year-old Mr Zengetwa, who was discharged home from hospital on 15 August, of his experience.

“My birthday was on 15 July and of course I only realised long afterwards that I had missed it. When I came to, I was so glad to have made it, I was in high spirits and remember singing a Three Tenors song with my physician Dr Piyush Meel,” added Mr Zengetwa.

He says that he is still having to undergo physiotherapy to walk again, as he spent so long in bed, but is making a steady recovery and is so glad to be alive and back with his wife and two children, aged five and 12.

“I think it was my wife and children who got me through this ordeal – knowing that I couldn’t leave them behind. That and the excellent treatment I received from my medical team at the hospital, all of whom played a part in saving my life. I am so thankful to them all and to Dr Meel in particular. All the nursing staff were excellent, going way beyond the call of duty to help me, one even comforting my family and organising that I could video call them.”

Mr Zengetwa, who was admitted to Netcare Greenacres Hospital’s ICU on 8 July and was only transferred to a general ward on 13 August, says that he never expected to get such a serious case of COVID-19 at his age. After he heard that a colleague had tested positive, he developed a high fever and went for testing. The next day, however, he started to struggle to breathe and his wife called an ambulance.

“It’s great when we are able to discharge a patient like Mr Zengetwa, who was so critically ill with COVID-19-related pneumonia, home to his wife and family. He is a wonderful and humble man, who was very emotional upon his remarkable recovery, and it is very rewarding that we are able to make a real difference in the midst of this pandemic. It lifts our spirits and builds the morale of all the staff members to see our hard work bear fruit in this way,” adds Dr Meel.

Dr Meel agrees that saving Mr Zengetwa was very much a team effort. “The doctors and nursing staff have to work together to care for very sick patients. The ICU in particular is an exceptionally tough environment for everyone who works there, and in my book they’re all heroes and should be appreciated.

“These success stories are definitely very much as a result of the hard work and dedication of many doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, porters, cleaners and catering staff at the hospital. Every one of them has come together to care for and support our vulnerable patients,” he comments.

I would also like to acknowledge the ICU nursing staff specifically, and also my colleagues Dr Paul Musoke, Dr Hlanjwa Maepa, Dr Moses Jansen and Dr Ynishia Jansen and Dr Neil Hendricks. The anaesthetists, namely Dr Johan Dreyer, Dr Nico de Bruin, Dr Ernest Buitendag, Dr Fredrick Olivier and Dr Shane Poultney have also played a major role.”

General manager of Netcare Greenacres Hospital, Andre Bothma, says that the staff and doctors were delighted to bid a fond farewell to Mr Zengetwa. “I am most grateful to the wonderful staff and doctors we have caring for our patients. I commend them for their dedication and considerable efforts in saving lives at this time. We wish Mr Zengetwa and his family all the best for the future, it was an honour to have cared for him,” he concludes.


To find out more about the services offered through Netcare hospitals and other of the Group’s facilities, please contact Netcare’s customer service centre either by email at [email protected] or phone 0860 NETCARE (0860 638 2273). Note that the centre operates Mondays to Fridays from 08:00 to 16:00.

For more information on this media release, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.

Issued by:           MNA on behalf of Netcare Greenacres Hospital
Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone:        (011) 469 3016
Email:                   [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]