Bringing a smile back to the face of a child due to a deformity is something the Smile Foundation takes pride in doing. Picture: Claire Louis Thomas/Supplied
Cape Town - Bringing a smile back to the face of a child due to a deformity is something the Smile Foundation takes pride in doing.

This week the foundation is celebrating 10 years of bringing smiles to young faces at Tygerberg Hospital and will mark this milestone by assisting more children with reconstructive surgery. The foundation has been hosting Smile weeks at the hospital since 2008 and will be hosting another this week, performing cleft lip and palate surgery, craniofacial surgery and ear and nose reconstructive procedures on children in need.

“During the 10-year journey we have formed a strong bond between the Smile Foundation and Tygerberg Hospital, which has seen many benefits to the lives of the children, as well as the training of South African plastic and reconstructive surgeons.

“Through this partnership, the lives of 955 children have been changed. Adcock Ingram sponsored this Smile Week and through this donation 20 young patients lives will be touched, who are based in areas such as Clanwilliam, Tulbagh and Robertson,” said acting head of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Tygerberg Hospital, Dr Alexander Zühlke.

Nine month-old Rehanni from Stellenbosch is among the Smile Week patients and will undergo cranial remodelling after being born with a rare congenital condition called craniosynostosis. The condition sees one or more of the sutures of the skull closing too soon. The operation will reposition the cranial bones, relieving pressure in her skull and giving her brain the room it needs to grow.

“Premature closure of cranial sutures is a rare congenital condition that not only produces a cosmetic deformity that makes children very self-conscious and can lead to significant emotional distress, but the pressure on the developing brain can lead to clinical symptoms, such as chronic headaches.

“We will do a total cranial vault decompression and remodelling for Rehanni,” said Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon Frank Graewe.

Smile Foundation operations director Moira Gerszt said the surgery will change Rehanni’s life, as similar procedures have done for children assisted in the past 10 years.

“It's only through our partnership with the Tygerberg Hospital, as well as the dedicated surgical team under Dr Alexander Zühlke and the incredible and very generous sponsorship of our donor, Adcock Ingram, that we are able to help these children.

“I can honestly say, it has been a true privilege to collaborate with the hospital's surgical and administrative teams over the past decade, and we look forward to many more years of helping the children of the Western Cape in this way.”

For more information on the Smile Foundation, visit www.smilefoundation.co.za or call 0861276453.

@IamAthinaMay

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Cape Argus