Giv­ing chil­dren back their smiles

Vuk'uzenzele - - Health - More Mat­shediso

THE SMILE FOUN­DA­TION has been chang­ing chil­dren’s lives since 2000 by se­cur­ing fund­ing to per­form surgery for treat­able fa­cial anom­alies.

Princess Mchunu (5) is flaunt­ing her smile and laugh­ing out loud like most chil­dren her age, thanks to the Smile Foun­da­tion’s sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure on her lip.

The Smile Foun­da­tion re­ceived a health award un­der the so­cial trans­for­ma­tion cat­e­gory at the re­cent

Gaut­eng

Premier’s

Ex­cel­lence

Awards. The awards gives recog­ni­tion to or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­di­vid­u­als who con­trib­ute to im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life for Gaut­eng res­i­dents.

Princess was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate, which meant that her mouth had an open­ing in the up­per lip that could ex­tend into the nose and the roof of the mouth. As a re­sult of her ill­ness, she had feed­ing and speech prob­lems and her mother, Sylvia, had to re­sign from her job due to her baby’s con­di­tion.

“I had to choose be­tween Princess and my job. I chose my baby,” said Sylvia.

Sylvia started re­search­ing op­tions for a sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure and was shocked that it could cost R60 000 or more to help her baby.

That’s when she found and con­tacted the Smile Foun­da­tion. After meet­ing mem­bers of the or­gan­i­sa­tion in 2014 her daugh­ter’s life changed for the bet­ter.

“I have been call­ing the foun­da­tion my fam­ily since then be­cause it has done so much for me,” she said.

Princess has had three surg­eries so far. The first pro­ce­dure for the lip, when she was four months old, fol­lowed by her first palate surgery at nine months and the sec­ond when she was al­most two years old.

“We are wait­ing for con­fir­ma­tion of the date of her den­tal surgery and she also needs to do her lips again. She is also at­tend­ing speech ther­apy,” said Sylvia.

The foun­da­tion works with the county’s 11 aca­demic hos­pi­tals to ben­e­fit chil­dren with fa­cial con­di­tions and per­forms cor­rec­tive fa­cial re­con­struc­tive surgery and treat­ment.

Chil­dren in need of surgery for treat­able fa­cial anom­alies such as a cleft lip, cleft palate, nose and ear con­di­tions, fa­cial paral­y­sis (Moe­bius Syn­drome), burn wounds and cran­io­fa­cial ab­nor­mal­i­ties re­ceive as­sis­tance.

The foun­da­tion was formed in 2000, after a per­sonal re­quest from For­mer Pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela to help Thando Many­athi smile.

Pres­i­dent Man­dela asked the founder and ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of the Smile Foun­da­tion, Marc Lub­ner, to help him se­cure surgery for Many­athi, who was suf­fer­ing from Moe­bius Syn­drome.

Lub­ner said win­ning the ex­cel­lence award was recog­ni­tion of the col­lab­o­ra­tive work that it takes to look after a child holis­ti­cally.

“The award recog­nises the suc­cess­ful func­tion­ing of the re­la­tion­ships be­tween state hos­pi­tals, cor­po­rate and pri­vate donors, in­put from sur­geons, doc­tors and nurses and the cat­alytic role played by the pas­sion­ate Smile team,” said Lub­ner.

The foun­da­tion of­fers sup­port to South African chil­dren from birth to 18 years.

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