Four-year-old now has hope to smile

2015-08-06 06:00
France Cumbana’s parents, Joao and Raquel are very grateful that their son (4) will at last be able to smile. France (4) is undergoing surgery this week in Port Elizabeth to correct his short lower jaw which since birth has resulted in his having dif

France Cumbana’s parents, Joao and Raquel are very grateful that their son (4) will at last be able to smile. France (4) is undergoing surgery this week in Port Elizabeth to correct his short lower jaw which since birth has resulted in his having dif

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

FOR the first time in his life France Cumbana (4) from Humansdorp now has the hope to smile, as he undergoes life-changing surgery in Port Elizabeth this week.

Due to his condition, France has never been able to breathe, eat, smile or speak properly.

Apart from these challenges, Frances’s father, Joao, said he was very happy that his child would at last look like other children af-ter the surgeries and would no longer be teased for “not having a chin”.

France was born with a rare facial condition called Pierre Robin Sequence, which results in a very small lower jaw and a tongue that falls back in the throat, often with a cleft palate. In France’s case he has a cleft palate and can only open his jaw 1cm – a one-in-a-million medical condition.

But over the next six weeks, France’s life will be transformed as he undergoes numerous surgical procedures, made possible through the generous funding of Port Elizabeth International Airport and with the support of the Smile Foundation.

Dr. Chris van der Walt, who heads up Cumdana’s medical team, said surgically breaking the boy’s jaw was the first step on the way to lengthen the jaw.

Called a mandible distraction, the procedure sees surgeons breaking the jaw, inserting a special distractor with screws and then, over the next six weeks, gently stretching the broken jaw by 1mm each day.

Van der Walt said France’s cleft palate will only be fixed once the lengthening of his jaw is complete. “Until now it has been impossible to work on the cleft palate, since France’s mouth cannot open enough to allow access.”

It is the first time this procedure is being done in Port Elizabeth, and will position the surgical team to help others who need similar procedures in future.

Moira Gerszt, Operations Executive Director at the Smile Foundation, said they have been supporting the patients coming through this paediatric department for 4 years and on a weekly basis for nearly a year. “This process offers sustainable support for the children and families involved, with surgery and psycholo-gical counselling being made available, as well as education relating to the hospital process.”

France is one of 26 children from the Eastern Cape who will receive reconstructive facial surgery this week as part of the Port Elizabeth International Airport Smile Week, taking place at the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital until Friday.

Provincial Hospital operational manager, sister Lungiswa Dyala is co-ordinating all the procedures. She said it is wonderful to be able to be part of such an amazing initiative

Selvin Meyer, acting Airport Manager at Port Elizabeth International Airport, said Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is proud to once again be associated with the Smile Foundation in making a difference in children’s lives

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.