THE SMILE Foundation is excited to host it's first-ever Smile Week in Pretoria at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
The Foundation, of which Madiba is the Chief Patron, assists children across South Africa in need of facial and other reconstructive surgery, and will next week – with the support of generous donor, LG – give 11 children a new reason to smile.
More than just facilitating life-changing surgeries that have the power to completely transform these young children’s lives and those of their families and caregivers Steve Biko Academic Hospital together with the University of Pretoria will facilitate skills transfer to the registrars and upcoming consultants.
By doing so, this first important Smile Week is able to assist more children from Pretoria and the surrounds as well as ensure the transfer and development of specialist skills.
One such specialist, a Durban-based plastic and reconstructive surgeon, will be changing 7-year-old Kabelo life forever, when she crafts her a new ear from three of her ribs.
Kabelo was born with microtia, a congenital condition that has left her with no external ear and an upside down ear lobule.
A significant physical deformity, this condition often results in teasing at school, low self-esteem and, in 60% to 80% of cases, may even lead to the development of psychological problems.
“The child and their parents often feel very lonely in dealing with this specific condition, and often do not believe treatment is possible. But seeing other children with similar problems undergoing the same treatment, progressing to definitive surgery and later recovering, builds confidence and decreases anxiety for young patients.
The procedure involves first ‘growing’ new skin to cover the new ear, and then sculpting seven different ear parts from costal (rib) cartilage that are joined with thin wires to make up the completed ear.
The surgeon will use a procedure described by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne in ‘growing’ the new skin, where special gel injections are used to stretch the skin, as opposed to traditional tissue expanding balloons that are often a source of further embarrassment for these children.
“The specialist skills that the surgeon will employ in this procedure will be transferred to the surgical staff attending from both the hospital and the university. Through this collaboration we are not only able to further develop the skills of our registrars and up and coming consultants, but also help these children today and in the future. This is a core part of the Foundation’s vision in fulfilling Madiba’s wish that we help as many children in South Africa as possible with transformative surgeries such as this,” says Hedley Lewis, CEO of the Smile Foundation.
“At LG, we feel that it is our duty to bring meaningful change to the lives of our consumers and the communities in which we operate. We believe this is the reason for our existence and remain committed to building a better tomorrow for all South Africans. This is why we have partnered with the Smile Foundation – to play our role in helping bring smiles to more children,” said Antonio dos Santos, Consumer Electronics Sales Director, LG South Africa.
The Smile Foundation is an NGO dedicated to helping children with treatable facial anomalies receive the surgical treatment they so desperately need. It works with generous donors and the country’s academic hospitals to facilitate these surgeries that give the children involved a new lease on life.
“It was truly a heart-warming experience to see smiles on the faces of children who not too long ago were unable to smile. Above and beyond our partnership with the Smile Foundation, we owe our success to the fantastic patronage and support of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital staff, whom without them we could not be part of this journey – thank you all,” concluded Antonio.
Prof Tiaan de Jager, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences stated “The University of Pretoria is proud to be involved in this very important initiative and inspired to make a meaningful contribution to the young children’s live. The opportunity to improve children’s lives while equipping our surgical staff with new skills will assist us greatly in strengthening and expanding our efforts to serve other similar patients.”
The Steve Biko Academic Hospital Smile Week sponsored by LG takes place from 3 to 5 September 2018.