Cape Town - The Smile Foundation is hosting its 11th and biggest Smile Week with its partners at Tygerberg Academic Hospital to help give 41 children with facial deformities hope for a brighter future.
Every child’s facial birth deformity is different and surgeons will perform crucial facial reconstructive and plastic surgery.
Nigel Tagwirei, 3, from Kraaifontein suffers from scaphocephaly – a disorder that occurs when there is a premature fusion of the sagittal suture that joins the two parietal bones of the skull.
"Scaphocephaly results in a skull deformity characterised by a bossing forehead and a long and narrow skull. Aside from the cosmetic irregularity, this puts pressure on the developing brain, which can lead to clinical symptoms such as chronic headaches," explained acting head of plastic surgery Dr Alexander Zuhlke.
Dr Zuhlke said that to correct this, and alleviate the physical and emotional distress caused by the condition, surgeons will reshape Nigel’s skull in a procedure called cranial vault remodelling.
Nigel’s mother, Dorothy Magwaza, 38, who is unemployed, said she was extremely excited about her son’s operation. “I have been waiting so long for this day. I have started to feel uncomfortable with children staring at my son in public. He is a child with feelings. I am very happy for this opportunity,” she said.
Hope Jaers, 9, from Wellington, a talented singer, is to undergo her second operation. Her mother said the excess skin on her face had to be removed so that her left eye can open. “Young girls are very fussy about their appearance. I am relieved that she won’t have to grow up being bullied or develop low self-esteem because of it,” said her mother, Jayline Jaers, 27.
Deft mom Thuliswa Numbewu, 22, said she was very relieved about her son Luphiwo, 2, having the operation needed to live a normal life. “I am nervous and anxious about the process, but I am positive it will be worth it in the end,” she said. Luphiwo’s surgery involves removing skin from his stomach to cover the birthmark on his face.
Smile Foundation CEO Hedley Lewis said this initiative was very important to him. Emotional about how far the foundation has come, he said: “My motto is: do it for the children. My voice is their voice.”
For more information, contact Smile Foundation on www.smilefoundation.co.za or 0861 276 453. Help put a smile on a child’s face today. SMS “Smile” to 38413 to donate R10.