A massive 43 paediatric surgeries scheduled for Tygerberg Academic Hospital
Smile Foundation’s recognised national surgical initiative, Smile Week, has grown beyond just providing reconstructive surgery for facial anomalies; today it also provides highly specialised surgical interventions, for a range of conditions affecting other areas of the body, and to a steadily growing number of children in need. All these factors combine in the upcoming Tygerberg Academic Hospital Smile Week sponsored by Vodacom Foundation in what is another big Smile Week in this hospital.
One of the fascinating cases is the scaphocephaly surgery being performed on eight-month-old Esinalo of Uitenhage. Esinalo’s mother is a single mom, and with him being her first born, she was both shocked and frightened when she learnt of his condition after his birth. But this week’s operation has given her renewed hope that her son might have a chance at a normal life in the future.
This highly specialised surgery will take between six and seven hours to complete, and will involve remodelling little Esinalo’s skull in order for his brain to have space to develop normally. Tygerberg Academic Hospital through its Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery has previously attended to many children who have been born with this type of condition.
Also of interest is 8 year old Rooney, who was born with a bilateral facial cleft. Rooney was part of the very first Smile Week in 2009, also sponsored by the Vodacom Foundation, during which his primary reconstructive surgery took place.
The surgery was truly life changing: Rooney has grown into a confident boy who loves sports, especially rugby and soccer, who is very talkative and diligent at school. He’s doing exceptionally well in Grade R, with his father – who cares for him and his twin brother.
Rooney returns this Smile Week, for surgery to correct his eyebrows and for other minor procedures to his face, which will further enhance his confidence and stand him in good stead to continue his remarkable recovery and personal achievements in the future.
Rooney and Esinalo are just two of the planned 43 children who will be operated on this week. Moira Gerszt, Smile Foundation’s Operations Director, says this is exactly the same number of recipients that were assisted in that first Smile Week that was sponsored back in 2009 by Vodacom Foundation.
“Tygerberg Academic Hospital has a massive reach, and there are increasing numbers of children in need of reconstructive surgery. As a result, a significant number of children will benefit from this Smile Week. Because of this Smile Week, there is also a diverse range of surgeries taking place this week. We have four additional surgeons supporting Dr Alexander Zuhlke. These include Dr Frank Graewe, who is joining the team to assist with Esinalo’s cranial surgery on Tuesday, and Dr Dirk van der Spuy, a specialist in hand surgery, who will be tackling eight surgeries to correct congenital hand conditions on Friday.
“Once again, we are grateful to Tygerberg Academic Hospital, it’s Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and all the surgeons, nursing staff and anaesthetists involved in giving of their time and expertise to help these children. The invaluable support of the Vodacom Foundation has once again made this all possible, highlighting the true power of collaboration and public-private partnerships in South Africa,” says Gerszt.
Executive Head: Vodacom Foundation, Mthobeli Tengimfene says: “Babies with cleft lips and/or palates find it hard to suckle and this impacts their growth and development. It also has an influence on their speech development so the corrective surgery, performed by the doctors during a Smile and Vodacom sponsored week, ensure that the children can develop and grow to their full potential. During a Vodacom sponsored Smile Week, our employees are hands on and volunteer their time in at the hospital to play and read to the little patients. This is invaluable to make the hospital experience more enjoyable for the patients and their parents.”
The Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, also said: “Working together with all sectors of society, the Department can help forge a stronger health system that continues to provide quality healthcare to the most vulnerable members of our communities. The Department is delighted to continue working with both the Smile and Vodacom foundations to provide these young children with such great care.”