Smile Week continues to change lives

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Matokelo Kashe and Lethabo

Little patients at Universitas Academic Hospital were all smiles today as they will be getting the chance to reconstruct their lips, palates and faces. Smile Week is an annual initiative when numerous children from across the province receive specialist surgery to restore their cleft palates.

As you step into the hospital ward where the little ones are treated, you wouldn’t guess that any of them have been through so much because they never fail to give a beaming smile. About 25 children aged between 10 months and 12 years will get much needed operations throughout the week.

According to one of the parents, Matshidiso Moloi from Villiers, her son, Njabulo, has gone through about three surgeries since he was 10 months old. “First he had surgery done on his lip, then when he was 16 months old they did his palate. This was before the grafting that had to be done when he was 10 years old,” she said.

Njabulo will go into theatre on Wednesday along with three other children in his hospital room. “When I get out the hospital, I am going to play with my friends and if they want to play with me they must all come to my house,” expressed the 12-year-old.

10-month-old Nthabiseng Motoane  plays gleefully with her pink fairy wand as her mother, Thakane Motoane of Ficksburg, also retold her journey with her daughter. “My baby lost a lot of weight as a baby because she was not feeding well. The only way that we could cope was by feeding her with specialised bottles until she had surgery to fix the hole at the back of her month,” said Thakane.

This year’s Smile Week is sponsored by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA). “We have had four surgeries so far and the rest will be done today and the others will be done for the remainder of the week,” said Smile Week Regional Coordinator, Letitia Jordaan. Health MEC, Montseng Tsiu, visited the patients and their parents to wish them well on their upcoming surgeries on Wednesday.–

Nomaqhawe Mtebele

nomaqhawe@mahareng.co.za