Kids benefit from Smile Week

There were “smiles” all around last week when dozens of children born with facial anomalies, such as cleft lips and palates, were operated on at Tygerberg Hospital.

The surgeries were made possible through the Vodacom and Smile Foundations’ support for Stellenbosch University’s department of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Executive head of the Vodacom Foundation Mthobeli Tengimfene said they were committed “to put smiles on needy children’s faces”.

“Babies with cleft lips and/or palates find it hard to suckle and this impacts their growth and development. It also has an influence on their speech development, so the corrective surgery ensures the children can develop and grow to their full potential.”

Cleft lip and palate is the most common facial congenital anomaly in children, a statement from the Vodacom Foundation said.

Moira Gerszt, Smile Foundation’s operations director, said Tygerberg Hospital has a huge reach, with increased numbers of children needing reconstructive surgery.

“As a result, a significant number of children will benefit from this Smile Week. Because of this Smile Week, there is also a diverse range of surgeries taking place this week,” she said. These included eight operations to correct congenital hand conditions, to be done by Dr Dirk van der Spuy, a specialist in hand surgery.