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Surgeries change lives

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Dr Gert Steyn (left) and Dr Nathan Kaplan, specialists in plastic and reconstructive surgery, with Vuyo Phantsi (3) during Smile Week, which ran from 4 to 8 October at the Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein this year. Photo:Juan-Marie Steyn
Dr Gert Steyn (left) and Dr Nathan Kaplan, specialists in plastic and reconstructive surgery, with Vuyo Phantsi (3) during Smile Week, which ran from 4 to 8 October at the Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein this year. Photo:Juan-Marie Steyn

The Smile Foundation and its partners left 24 children from the Free State uplifted following successful surgeries to improve their lives.

Corrective surgeries were performed during the annual Smile Week from 4 to 8 October at the Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein. One was done at the Pelonomi Hospital’s maxillo facial and oral surgery department.

These life-changing surgeries are performed pro bono by a capable team of doctors. The costs are estimated to range from R350 000 to R400 000, depending on the number of patients.

The latest surgeries became possible thanks to a partnership that involves the Smile Foundation, the plastic and reconstructive surgery department of the Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein and Adcock Ingram, a leading pharmaceutical company in South Africa.

Surgeries range from facial repair and cleft lip repair to skin grafts on those who survive burn wounds.

Two of the 24 beneficiaries are Vuyo Phantsi (3) from Bloemfontein and Kaylee Oosthuizen (2) from Welkom.

Kaylee was born with a cleft palate and was unable to open her eyes at birth. She was diagnosed with microphthalmia, a condition in which one or both eyes are abnormally small and eyesight is extremely poor due to congenital hypoplasia of the eyeball.

Vuyo is the survivor of a fire that killed her mother and other family members.

Five children with burn wounds have undergone life-changing surgeries this year. Four were assisted in March, and these were reportedly the first burn wound patients in the province to be helped by the Smile Foundation. Two of the beneficiaries were Mpoentle Mbobo and Anine van Eck.

“The surgeons successfully performed an operation on Vuyo’s hand, which had been badly burnt. They also did a skin graft,” said Letitia Jordaan, Smile Foundation representative.

She said the patients were recovering well, while re­ceiving good postoperative care.

Combined, 42 young patients have been helped by the foundation this year. Early in March, 18 patients underwent corrective surgeries.

Combined, 42 young patients have been helped by the foundation this year

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