Doc­tors do­ing it for the chil­dren

Cape Argus - - FRONT PAGE - Tam­ryn Chris­tians

THE Smile Foun­da­tion is host­ing its 11th and big­gest Smile Week with its part­ners at Tyger­berg Aca­demic Hos­pi­tal to help give 41 chil­dren with fa­cial de­for­mi­ties hope for a brighter fu­ture.

Ev­ery child’s fa­cial birth de­for­mity is dif­fer­ent and sur­geons will perform cru­cial fa­cial re­con­struc­tive and plas­tic surgery.

“Nigel Tag­wirei, 3, from Kraai­fontein suf­fers from scapho­cephaly – a dis­or­der that oc­curs when there is a pre­ma­ture fu­sion of the sagit­tal su­ture that joins the two pari­etal bones of the skull.

Scapho­cephaly re­sults in a skull de­for­mity char­ac­terised by a boss­ing fore­head and a long and nar­row skull. Aside from the cos­metic ir­reg­u­lar­ity, this puts pres­sure on the de­vel­op­ing brain, which can lead to clin­i­cal symp­toms such as chronic headaches,” ex­plained act­ing head of plas­tic surgery Dr Alexander Zuh­lke.

Dr Zuh­lke said that to cor­rect this, and al­le­vi­ate the phys­i­cal and emo­tional dis­tress caused by the con­di­tion, sur­geons will re­shape Nigel’s skull in a pro­ce­dure called cra­nial vault re­mod­elling.

Nigel’s mother, Dorothy Mag­waza, 38, who is un­em­ployed, said she was ex­tremely ex­cited about her son’s op­er­a­tion. “I have been wait­ing so long for this day. I have started to feel un­com­fort­able with chil­dren star­ing at my son in pub­lic. He is a child with feel­ings. I am very happy for this op­por­tu­nity,” she said.

Hope Jaers, 9, from Welling­ton, a tal­ented singer,is to have her sec­ond op­er­a­tion. Her mother said the ex­cess skin on her face had to be re­moved so that her left eye can open. “Young girls are very fussy about their ap­pear­ance. I am re­lieved that she won’t have to grow up be­ing bul­lied or de­velop low self-es­teem be­cause of it,” said her mother, Jay­line Jaers, 27.

Deft mom Thuliswa Num­bewu, 22, said she was very re­lieved about her son Luphiwo, 2, hav­ing the op­er­a­tion needed to live a nor­mal life. “I am ner­vous and anx­ious about the process, but I am pos­i­tive it will be worth it in the end,” she said. Luphiwo’s surgery in­volves re­mov­ing skin from his stom­ach to cover the birth­mark on his face.

The CEO of the Smile Foun­da­tion, Hed­ley Lewis, said this ini­tia­tive was very im­por­tant to him. Emo­tional about how far the foun­da­tion has come, he said: “My motto is: do it for the chil­dren. My voice is their voice.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Smile Foun­da­tion on­www.s mile foun­da­tion. co.za or 0861 276 453. Help put a smile on a child’s face to­day. SMS “Smile” to 38413 to do­nate R10.

PIC­TURE HENK KRUGER/ANA

START­ING TO SMILE: Thuliswa Nombewu and son Luphiwo, 2, wait at Tyger­berg Hos­pi­tal. Some 41 chil­dren with fa­cial disor­ders will un­dergo surgery at Tyger­berg Aca­demic Hos­pi­tal dur­ing Smile Week.

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