The Smile Foundation is passionate about putting smiles on the faces of children in South Africa through reconstructive surgery, and with Smile Week kicking off on 29 October, it is clear that partnerships are vital to continue helping children with life changing operations.
The surgeries will be performed at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, sponsored by the Vodacom Foundation.
Ten brave children, ranging in age from 3 months to 13 years, benefited from this round, undergoing multiple facial-plasty to pioneering toe-to-thumb reconstruction.
One of them is 10 year old Tania. When a boiling kettle fell over, emptying its scorching contents onto her 3 years ago, her life changed forever. Innocently playing on the floor beneath the kettle one minute and doused in boiling water the next, Tania suffered scalding hot water burns to her back, torso, neck and the side of her face. Tania has had multiple reconstructive surgeries as well as ongoing occupational therapy to help her body heal from this trauma, which has left her with significant hypertrophic scarring.
Similarly, little Clayton was only a year old when he suffered severe burns, but his injuries were as a result of a house fire that started when a candle fell over and his wooden home caught alight. Around 20 percent of Clayton’s body surface area was burned, including his hip, lower limbs, head, neck and both hands. Sadly he lost fingers on both hands, which has caused him a great deal of physical and emotional pain, especially in later years when he started school. At 12 years old today, Clayton is continually teased at school where some of the children call him Stompies, and relies heavily on his mother – who gave up her job to care for him – for help with all his daily activities.
During this Smile Week Clayton will be undergoing pioneering surgery as the surgical team plan to give him a left thumb by transferring his right second toe. This is the second ground-breaking paediatric toe-thumb surgery to take place in South Africa. 4-year-old Angelique Schroder became one of the youngest patients in South Africa to undergo this operation earlier this year.
The Head of the Burn Unit at the hospital, Dr Gary Dos Passos, says it’s not just about healing bodies.
“Both the physical and psychological scars in the burn victim serve as a constant reminder of the suffering they endured. Unfortunately, resources limit the availability of reconstructive procedures to help maximise their recovery. Thanks to Smile Foundation and Vodacom Foundation, a few more children will be gifted the hope of a normal future”
The Smile Foundation’s Chief Patron is the late Nelson Mandela, and his wish was for the Foundation to assist as many children around South Africa as possible, to alleviate the stigma attached to living with a facial condition.
You can honour that wish by making a donation to the Foundation. Visit www.smilefoundation.co.za or SMS “Smile” to 38413 to donate R10.