Smile! This is the week 43 children get a new chance at life

Eight-year-old Rooney was born with a bilateral facial cleft and needed reconstructive surgery‚ which was funded by the Smile Foundation.

Today‚ Rooney is a confident Grade R pupil who loves sport. Next week he will again be wheeled into the operating theatre at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town‚ this time for minor procedures to his face.

Rooney is one of 43 children scheduled for surgery at the hospital during Smile Week‚ which runs from November 7 to 11.

The NGO‚ which operates at eight academic hospitals around the country‚ assists children ”with any type of facial or other conditions” who need reconstructive surgery.

Moira Gerszt‚ Smile Foundation’s operations director‚ said Tygerberg had a ”massive reach”‚ and there were an increasing number of children in need of reconstructive surgery.

A diverse range of operations was planned this week. “We have four additional surgeons supporting Dr Alexander Zuhlke.

“These include Dr Frank Graewe and Dr Dirk van der Spuy‚ a specialist in hand surgery‚ who will be tackling eight surgeries to correct congenital hand conditions on Friday.

“Once again‚ we are grateful to Tygerberg Academic Hospital‚ its Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery‚ and all the surgeons‚ nursing staff and anaesthetists involved in giving of their time and expertise to help these children.”

Mthobeli Tengimfene‚ from the Vodacom Foundation which sponsors Smile Week‚ said babies born with cleft lips and palates found it hard to suckle‚ affecting their growth and development.

Vodacom staff volunteer at the hospital‚ reading to patients and playing with them. “This is invaluable to make the hospital experience more enjoyable for the patients and their parents‚” said Tengimfene.

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