Tygerberg Hospital saw the official launch of Smile Week, with the Smile Foundation organising reconstructive operations for 18 children, sponsored by Vodacom. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - Tygerberg Hospital saw the official launch of Smile Week, with the Smile Foundation organising reconstructive operations for 18 children, sponsored by Vodacom.

This is the eleventh year that the hospital has hosted a Smile Week, with the launch attended by Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, who spoke about the initiative restoring hope to parents, who may never have been able to afford reconstructive surgery for their children.

“When a child is born with a cleft lip and cleft palate, the mothers are often so overwhelmed and don’t know how to handle the situation. When I was a midwife, I saw this so many times and, while the doctors know how the situation can be remedied, it is often funds that are the biggest obstacle,” she said.

According to Dr Alexander Zühlke, a senior specialist in the plastic surgery division at Tygerberg Hospital, the youngest child being operated on is five months old.

“The longest operation on Tuesday was around five hours, which was done on Brandon Daniels, an 11-month-old who was born with Scaphocephaly, occurring when there is a premature fusion of the sagittal suture,” he said.

An expert medical team will perform reconstructive surgeries at Tygerberg Hospital, sponsored by Vodacom and the Smile Foundation. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
Tygerberg Hospital saw the official launch of Smile Week, with the Smile Foundation organising reconstructive operations for 18 children, sponsored by Vodacom. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)
Little Kiara Jansen was born with six fingers on each hand, and will benefit from surgery made possible by the Smile Foundation and Vodacom. She has so far had the extra finger removed on her right hand. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
Kiara Jansen, 18 months old, was born with 6 fingers on each hand. She will benefit from the Smile Foundation and Vodacom initiative. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Daniels underwent surgery to correct the shape of his head and to reduce the pressure on his developing brain, with surgeons reshaping the baby’s skull, in a procedure called a cranial vault remodelling.

Chantel Jansen, who is also from Elsies River, travelled to the hospital with her 18-month-old daughter, Kiara Jansen.

“My daughter was born with 12 fingers, four of them being thumbs and while my other children, Aiden, 14, Caleb, 11, and Caitlin Jansen, 7, love her so much and thought her extra fingers made her unique, I want them removed because I do not want her ridiculed at school,” she said.

Louise Snyers from Piketberg, is a mother to Luchain Snyers, who is one year and three months old, and said that her daughter would be undergoing cleft palate surgery.

“Everything that she eats needs to be soft and so this surgery will help remedy that problem,” she said.

An expert medical team will perform reconstructive surgeries at Tygerberg Hospital, sponsored by Vodacom and the Smile Foundation. 18 children will be operated on as part of Tygerberg’s Hospital Smile Week at the hospital taking place from 11 – 15 November. Video: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
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