The Smile Foundation has changed the lives of 14 children and one adult for the better through surgeries performed at the Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein. Surgeries were performed from Monday, 12 March to Thursday (15/03). This was part of Smile Week, and involved a partnership between the foundation and the hospital. The procedures included: cleft palate repair, alveolar bone grafting (a follow-up procedure to cleft palate repair), thumb duplication repair, bilateral otoplasty (ear surgery) and acrosyndactyly (fused fingers) release. One of the children who benefited is Hlompho Alimoso (3). When Alimoso was born, his mother, Winnie, saw he was not the same as the other babies. His head was a different shape and his fingers were fused together. Winnie and Alimoso were referred to a local genetics outreach clinic, where the specialists immediately recognised Alimoso’s facial features and fused fingers and toes as being characteristic of Apert Syndrome. So began Alimoso’s journey to recovery, which moved one step closer to its conclusion last week, when he underwent further surgery as part of the Universitas Academic Hospital Smile Week.“That diagnosis changed everything for this boy and his family. They finally had a name for his condition, and thanks to the counselling they received from Dr Bertram Henderson, medical geneticist and head of the clinical unit in the Department of Clinical Genetics at the Universitas Hospital, they also understood the cause, implications, complications and care involved,” said Moira Gerszt, executive director of Smile Foundation operations. Gerszt said given the complexity of his surgeries, Alimoso had to be examined by surgeons in Johannesburg several times before any work could begin. They made several bus trips, facilitated by the Smile Foundation, from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg.Gerszt said in November 2016, Alimoso was ready for his first operation: craniofacial surgery to correct the abnormal bone growth of his skull. Having responded well to the first surgery, doctors could start working on releasing his fused fingers.