Child (5) gets one-of-a-kind operation

2013-04-25 17:31

Tonight, Celiwe Maseko, a girl from Kagiso near Krugersdorp, will undergo a life-changing operation.

The five-year-old will be the second person in Africa to undergo a skin graft operation using her own cloned after sustaining third-degree burns on a third of her body in January.

The first person to undergo the procedure was Isabella “Pippie” Kruger, last June.

Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr Ridwan Mia will perform the three-hour operation at Garden City Clinic using Celiwe’s skin, cloned by a US cell therapy manufacturing company, Genzyme.

The skin arrived at the OR Tambo airport shortly before 5:30pm. It was delivered to Garden City at around 6:20pm and the operation was expected to start shortly after.

Mia said this procedure was an important milestone for medical science on the African continent. “It is only the second time that the operation is being performed in Africa, and the first time that it is being undertaken on a dark-skinned patient. The procedure has only been performed on a dark-skinned patient on one previous occasion in the history of medicine,” he said.

Until now, burn victims had very few options available to them as this form of treatment was not available.

Celiwe’s cloned skin is being funded by the “Pippie se Gesiggie” Foundation, which was established by Pippie’s mother, Anice Kruger.

Kruger said more victims would be assisted if funds allowed it.

» This story was updated after first published.

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