PE Smile Week secures surgeries

THE Smile Foundation and its partners left families smiling when they provided 27 children with plastic and reconstructive surgery during its annual Eastern Cape Smile Week which took place last week.

The Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital Smile Week is sponsored by the Port Elizabeth International Airport.

Among the young patients is six-month-old, Winston Engela, who suffers from a cleft lip and palate.

“I was not aware of Winston’s condition while I was pregnant and only found out when he was born,” said Winston’s mother, Jacky Engela.

While he had his first surgery on August 13, to have his cleft lip corrected, he needs further surgery to improve his palate.

He is scheduled for his second surgery in three months with the help of the Smile Foundation.

“Being a mother of a baby who has a cleft lip and palate demands undivided attention. He can only be fed with a special bottle.

“When I saw him for the first time after his operation, the emotions were indescribable.

“It took some time to get used to, but thanks to the Smile Foundation, my child will be able to have a normal life,” Engela added.

In addition, the Smile Foundation has secured important medical equipment, which will be donated to the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital to help even more children in the future.

Hedley Lewis, the CEO of the Smile Foundation, applauded the medical staff for their tremendous effort in helping these children.

“If you look around throughout the ward, you will see the real heroes - the mothers. They came from far to be here. The medical staff makes it possible to transform the lives of these children.

“It’s not about the needles, injections and surgeries, it’s about the love and passion they have,” Lewis said.

Dr Chris van der Walt is the head plastic surgeon who performs all the surgeries on the 27 children.

“Without sponsorship and the necessary funding, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do – and that is to help these children,” Dr Van der Walt said.

“We are able to offer all these surgeries thanks to the Department of Health and Smile Foundation.

“The team comprises many different people from the administrators, to the porters, the nurses and to our trainee doctors,” Dr Van der Walt said.

The Smile Foundation will continue to help children once per year in 11 hospitals across the country.