Smile Week surgery changes young lives

2017-02-15 06:03
Basie Polelo, deputy director general of the Free State De­partment of Health, with beneficiary Keletso Sekonyela.            Photos: Mlungisi Louw

Basie Polelo, deputy director general of the Free State De­partment of Health, with beneficiary Keletso Sekonyela. Photos: Mlungisi Louw

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A group of 11 paediatric patients, mostly from in and around Bloemfontein, were given new hope with life-changing surgeries.

Each of these children underwent surgery to improve facial defects.

Most of the surgeries were performed to repair children’s cleft lips and palate disorders.

These life-changing surgeries were performed from Monday, 6 February, to Friday (10/02) at the Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein and were undertaken as part of Smile Week.

The operations are supported annually by the Free State Department of Health and the Smile Foundation, as well as the Vodacom Foundation.

The 11 children, whose parents would otherwise not have been able to afford the surgery, were given brand-new smiles.

The announcement of commitment by the partners to perform these surgeries was made on Tuesday, 7 February, at a media briefing at the Universitas Academic Hospital.

Mthobeli Tengimfene, executive head of the Vodacom Foundation, said all children deserve the chance to reach their full potential in life.

She said partnering with the Smile Foundation in putting a smile on the faces of children and their parents is a big honour.

“The Vodacom Foundation is privileged to partner with the Smile Foundation in helping these youngsters regain the full use of their facial expressions though cranio-facial and cleft surgery,” said Tengimfene.

Most of the 11 children who underwent this surgery were more excited than afraid.

Keletso Sekonyela, a learner at the Bolokehang Primary School in Botshabelo, has already had three operations at the hospital in Bloemfontein, and each operation had a tremendously positive impact on his life.

Paulina Sekonyela (59), his grandmother, expressed happiness that her grandchild has again received the much-needed help.

A bone tissue gum was implanted following last year’s successful lip reconstruction surgery.

A nose operation is also in his future, but that will only be done once he reaches the age of 16 or 17.

Another child to undergo surgery was Lehakoe Makhalanyane, a seven-month-old who was born with a palate disorder.

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