Tholakele, 7, stands tall with new leg

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IOL  Prosthetic Leg 591 PRETORIA NEWS Tholakele Simelane, 7, receives lessons on putting on and taking off her new prosthetic leg from Stand With Stans medical prosthetist, Marco du Ploy, while her proud mother Saba looks on. Photo: Masi Losi

Johannesburg - She will now be able to skip better, run faster, keep up with her friends, play netball and kick a ball.

The confidence of Tholakele Simelane, who received a new prosthetic leg on Wednesday, has been turbo-boosted.

The 7-year-old ran around showing off her new prosthesis after receiving the gift from local public benefit organisation Stand With Stan.

“I will now walk faster than my friends because I often couldn’t catch up with them, and I will leave them far behind when we run,” said the Grade 3 pupil from Tembisa, Ekurhuleni.

Although she wasn’t too sure of joining her school’s netball team, she is set on taking every opportunity to kick a ball, because her last prosthesis would come off each time she kicked a ball.

“The limb is meant to make her life as normal as possible,” said Stan Andrews, director and founder of the organisation which gave Tholakele the artificial limb.

Tholakele’s leg was amputated from below the knee when she was 13 months old, after doctors advised her parents she would not be able to walk with the club foot she was born with.

She received her first prosthetic leg, without a foot, at 17 months old and in the years since has been wearing limbs provided by the public health sector.

The hospitals have been giving her uncomfortable limbs which were not designed to accommodate the type of stump she has.

For the new leg, Tholakele was assessed by Stand With Stan medical prosthetist Marco du Ploy, who then designed a limb which, while it looks skew, follows the natural contour of a leg and is aligned to her knee.

“She can now walk with more confidence and her shoes will last longer because her foot will step naturally,” Andrews said.

Tholakele was at the Constantia Park offices on Wednesday morning and Du Ploy took her through the routine she must follow every morning when putting on her prosthesis, and every evening when she takes it off.

She was also given suspension sleeves, worn over her leg and designed to fit tightly and keep out air, and prevent chaffing and blistering; a silicone sleeve; a lotion to apply before she put anything on her leg, and another to treat the initial rash that would appear when she started wearing the suspension sleeve.

“The new prosthetic leg is more comfortable and designed to fit snugly on to her stump. It will make her life so much better,” her mother Saba Simelane said.

Simelane said she was overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude at being a beneficiary of Stand with Stan, so much so she wanted to go out and inform every mother with an amputee child of the opportunity of a better life for their children.

“Every one needs to know that prosthetics can be customised to suit individuals. No one deserves to wear one just for the sake of it,” she said.

The Star


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