Smile Week
Photo Credit: Edward Eyer from Pexels

The Smile Foundation rejoices as elective surgeries start up again in the Western Cape allowing them to perform cleft lip, palate and other reconstructive surgery.


Western Cape, South Africa (28 August 2020) – A seven-month-old baby girl with a cleft lip and palate, is among the first recipients of essential plastic surgery, now that elective surgeries are slowly being resumed in the Western Cape.

Baby Honest’s operation, which took place on 27 August, involved the repair of a cleft lip. Her mom Moreble says she is very thankful that her baby is got this chance so early in her life, adding that, “she’s extremely excited about the operation and is looking forward to the outcome”.

The surgery took place as part of Smile Foundation’s support for Tygerberg Hospital in the Western Cape. The organisations are working hand-in-hand to address a major backlog in children requiring urgent cleft lip and palate surgery as well as other reconstructive surgery.

All elective surgeries were postponed across not only South Africa, but globally, to ensure patient safety, and enable hospitals to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only urgent oncology and trauma cases received surgery during lockdown, resulting in a significant backlog of elective surgeries, including plastic and reconstructive surgery for children in desperate need of timeous operations. It is estimated that between 70% and 100% of elective surgeries have been postponed.

Dr Alexander Zühlke, a senior specialist in the plastic surgery department at Tygerberg Hospital, says he anticipates it will take between 4-5 months to catch up on the COVID backlog at Tygerberg Hospital alone, and that is without any new patients coming to the hospital to seek further assistance over the next months. At present, Dr Zühlke has approximately 20 cleft lip and palate patients waiting for surgery.

A long-term successful outcome for a cleft lip or palate means a baby needs to be operated on within the first 12 months, especially for speech development. Delaying the surgeries could result in long-term permanent issues including not being able to speak correctly. The postponement of these surgeries has also had a significant psychological impact on the parents and their families.

“Smile Foundation is delighted that as we return to the ‘new normal’, desperately-needed surgeries for children with facial conditions are slowly resuming. But, the backlog is substantial and without the necessary funding, we won’t be able to reach and assist children who desperately need our assistance. We’re urging the public and corporates, to support our appeal for funds. With your help, we can work with hospitals throughout the country to ensure we assist as many children as possible.” – Hedley Lewis, Chief Executive at Smile Foundation

Every Thursday from 27 August, Smile Foundation, with the backing of donors, will continue support for the operations of at least 4 children at Tygerberg Hospital weekly. With the funding by its donors, Smile covers the costs of the anaesthetist and 4 theatre staff. If there is an ICU need, Smile will also cover the cost of the ICU sister. Smile is also working towards supporting multiple Smile Weeks starting in October to ensure no child is left behind.

Smile Foundation has created a raffle where your name will be entered into a draw for R100 per ticket. Participants stand the chance of winning an incredible R 100 000 cash prize.

The raffle draw date is on World Smile Day, Friday 2nd October 2020. To enter, please click here or visit Terms and Conditions apply.

Sources: Smile Foundation Supplied
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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