Children as young as the three-month-old baby, Ndileka Mahana, have during the course of the Smile Week underway at the hospital been operated on to put smiles back on their faces. Head of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of the Free State, Professor Fred Jooste, confirms that this week’s surgeries did not only include cleft lip and cleft palate repairs but also reconstructive surgery on a two-year-old girls’ hand and another on a ten-year-old Sasolburg girl, Selloane Modise, who could not have a full head of hair due to severe scarring caused by third-degree burns she sustained to her head, arms and hands in a shack fire, when she was just a year old. He confirms they have replaced the skin on Selloane’s scalp so she could grow hair, while the others are on the road to recovery following cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries.
“It’s a developmental problem. In our faces, when we are in the uterus, all our features come from the side and grow to the middle and fuse in the middle. With a cleft lip there is something that stops the lip from coming together and it is the same thing with a cleft palate,” said Jooste.
Meanwhile, parents of the four-year-old Amberin Ali, 11-month-old Asihle Jonas, and many others who have travelled as far as Frankfort, say they are pleased that their children have been operated on and are receiving the necessary medical support.
“My name is Mandisa Ali. She is Amberin Ali. I feel okay, because she is better now and out of theatre. It was a very long operation, but she is fine now,” said Ali.
The Smile Foundation’s Moira Gerszt says this Smile Week marks the 10th year that the foundation has supported the Universitas Academic Hospital. She says they are pleased to be part of the process that will help the group of young patients’ lives change for the better.
The foundation supports 12 academic hospitals around the country and supports plastic and reconstructive surgeons in enabling surgeries to take place more often. It also offers counselling to children.
Gerszt urges parents and guardians of children who need surgery to come forward and receive the necessary help.
As part of Be Happy Day, OFM is supporting the Smile Foundation and are appealing to listeners for donations. There is a need for the following items for the children in the ward: new crayons, colouring in books, puzzles, building blocks, kiddies’ blankets and beanies. (Please consider donating new items as there is the risk of infection with second-hand ones.)
OFM News/Katleho Morapela and Molebogeng Molebo