Northern Cape Craniofacial Surgery Attack Donation Operations Surgeries
Photo Credit: Vidal Balielo Jr. from Pexels

Six deserving children at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital are getting specialised Craniofacial Surgery this week thanks to local donors.


South Africa (31 October 2023) – Since its inception in December 2016, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) has lived out Nelson Mandela’s vision to give underprivileged children the healthcare they desperately need. By joining hearts and hands with Smile Foundation in hosting a Smile Week, we will see many more of Madiba’s intentions come to life.

“NMCH is one of the few medical centres that has the capacity to bring together a diverse array of dedicated surgeons, including plastic surgeons, maxillofacial surgeons and neurosurgeons specialised in paediatric craniofacial surgery. At NMCH they are supported by specialist paediatric anaesthetists and a dedicated paediatric ICU team. This team approach is essential to the successful execution of these very complex cases. This type of surgery is only offered in a few other units in the country. The backlog for craniofacial surgery is therefore immense and many children simply go untreated.

Through Smile Foundation, we can dedicate a full week to craniofacial surgery, making a significant impact on the waiting list and providing surgery to many children who might otherwise go untreated. Dr. Pinky Chirwa, our Clinical Director, inspired this ambitious undertaking, possibly breaking records for the number of complex cases done in a week at any hospital.” Says Dr Jason Labuschagne, Neurosurgeon at NMCH.

This Smile Week will run from 30th October to 3rd November 2023, during which 6 children will be undergoing life-changing surgery. Amongst the children undergoing surgery, is little Muhluri Enhle Chauke, a 3-year-old girl from Braamfischerville in Soweto. Muhluri was born with frontal encephalocele. This is an opening in the skull through which skin-covered contents of the brain bulge out obtrusively in the region of a baby’s forehead, resulting in an abnormally large head circumference.

Muhluri’s mother, Niyikwe shares the emotional strain of her daughter’s daily struggle and the impact it has had on her family:

“When Muhluri was born, I was just a teen, unprepared for her unique condition. Despite financial challenges, my family has been my rock. All I’ve ever wanted is the best for my little girl, but the unkindness she faces due to her appearance is heart-wrenching. Finding friends and a daycare that accepts her has been a struggle. Strangers’ stares weigh heavily on us. Finding clothes that fit her because of her large head is another challenge. I’m an overprotective mom, always ready to defend her from bullies. This has affected our whole family. We’ve distanced ourselves from negativity, finding strength in each other and our faith. Muhluri’s beautiful personality is a blessing, and her upcoming surgery offers hope for a new life.”

Marc Lubner – Acting Chief Executive Officer of Smile Foundation comments:

Muhluri previously underwent surgery that involved the removal of some of the non-functional brain fragments in the area of her forehead. During this Smile Week, she will undergo more extensive surgery that involves removing the remaining skin tissue in her forehead and the protruding bone on top of her head, as well as closing the cavity in her forehead and correcting the overall shape of her skull, which will help reduce her head size and normalise her appearance.

“Children who are born with deformities that affect their head and facial bones become far more cognisant of their physical differences from other children the older they get, and the more they are expected to engage with the world. Through our many Smile Weeks, Smile Foundation is geared to assist children like Muhluri from an early age, to help lessen the emotional damage that they will experience later on in life.”

“At Smile Foundation, every Smile Week leaves us in awe of the selflessness, generosity and dedication of the surgeons, medical teams and support staff who give of themselves and their talents to touch so many young lives. We want to express our gratitude to Professor Tim Christofides for his generous commitment of time in conducting cranio vault remodelling. He is among a select group of plastic surgeons with the expertise to carry out this specialized type of procedure, and we deeply appreciate the positive impact he has made on the lives of numerous children. We are also deeply grateful to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital for hosting our initiative for a second time this year and for helping us keep the late honourable Nelson Mandela’s legacy alive. As Chief Patron of Smile Foundation, Madiba once asked that we do whatever we can to support our children’s fight to rise above their pain and suffering. We are honoured to be part of a team that is doing just that,” concludes Marc Lubner.

Join the team as they help as many underprivileged children around South Africa as possible, to alleviate the stigma attached to living with facial conditions and burn injuries, by pledging your support here:

Sources: The 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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