Twins get rare skull surgery

Identical twin girls Hope and Blessing Mofokeng, from Bethlehem, in the the Free State, are undergoing life-changing surgery for a rare cranial condition at Tygerberg Hospital.

Moira Gerszt, Smile Foundation operations executive director, said they had never had identical twins suffering from the same condition. The 16-month-old sisters have craniosynostosis, the premature closure of the cranial sutures.

The surgical team is led by Dr Frank Graewe, an associate professor who works as a part-time consultant and Dr Alexander Zuhlke, acting head of the plastic surgery division at Tygerberg Hospital and Stellenbosch University.

The girls also have sagittal suture synostosis, which is the premature closure of the sagittal suture that runs from the fontanelle towards the back of the head.

“We will do a total cranial vault decompression and craniofacial remodelling for them, with the hope of giving them both a better future,” said Dr Graewe.

Ms Gerszt said cranio surgeries were not offered at all academic hospitals in the country.

“These types of craniofacial surgeries need a dedicated plastic and reconstructive surgeon who is familiar with performing such procedures on paediatric patients. We are so grateful to the surgical team at Tygerberg Academic Hospital together with the national Department of Health, which has offered to do these two surgeries in collaboration with the department of plastic and reconstructive surgery in Universitas Academic Hospital,” said Ms Gerszt.

On Friday, March 17, Tygerberg Hospital spokeswoman Laticia Pienaar said baby Hope was in a stable condition after the operation, and her sister Blessing still had to be operated on.