Surgeries revive hope

2019-03-27 06:00
Smile Week took place at the Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein from 11 to 14 March. From the left are Moira Gerszt (operations executive director: Smile Foundation), along with Alletta Jonas and Alec Booysen with their baby, Asihle Jonas, who underwent a cleft lip and cleft palate repair.Photo: Dan Xangaza

Smile Week took place at the Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein from 11 to 14 March. From the left are Moira Gerszt (operations executive director: Smile Foundation), along with Alletta Jonas and Alec Booysen with their baby, Asihle Jonas, who underwent a cleft lip and cleft palate repair.Photo: Dan Xangaza

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A young girl who suffered third-degree burns, Selloane Modise (12), has had another life-changing surgery to improve her quality of life.

The hope-giving surgery was performed at the Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein as part of the annual Smile Week.

This year’s initiative took place from 11 to 14 March, was supported by The Mmela Family.

Along with Selloane, 15 other young patients underwent surgery for cleft lip and cleft palate repairs.

Reconstructive surgeries were also performed on a two-year-old girl’s hand and a six-year-old boy’s tongue.

Selloane sustained third-degree burns to her head, arms and hands in a shack fire when she was just a year old.

Her journey to recovery has been long and painful.

Battling both physical and emotional trauma, she has undergone multiple surgeries since the accident.

However, an important chapter of her journey started during this year’s Smile Week.

Another operation – one she has been anxiously waiting for – was performed to enhance her hair growth.

Aside from physical deformities, her severe scarring prevented her hair growth.

Before the surgery, Selloane kept The devastating incident left the girl with only 40% hair growth on her head, and keeps her head permanently covered with hats and scarves.

Surgeons have now harvested new skin to replace the skin on 60% of her scalp, so she can have a full head of beautiful hair.

  • Selloane’s previous procedures included reconstructive surgery to her face, neck and scalp, and reconstruction to her left hand to replace the fingers she lost in the fire.

After the latter surgery, she was able to hold a pen again, and began to learn to write and colour.

During Smile Week in 2015, Selloane received a new prosthetic left ear, custom-made from silicone to match her right ear. This was another highlight on her journey to recovery.

She has also since received a skin graft, in which skin from her thigh was grafted over the injured area.

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