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ACSA supports Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital Smile Week

Aug 13, 2019
ACSA supports Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital Smile Week

Port Elizabeth - The dedicated surgeons and staff at the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital, the Smile Foundation, and generous donor, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), will forever change the lives of 30 children from Port Elizabeth and the surrounding areas this week, when they jointly host the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital Smile Week.

There are a number of significant cases that the surgical team will tackle this week, including a severe form of microtia in 12-year-old Atanele, who was born without an external left ear. This condition has had a serious impact on Atanele’s life, and has left deep emotional scars that the surgical team hopes to help remedy.

During Smile Week, surgeons will undertake the first stage of a two-stage operation, where part of Atanele’s rib cartilage will be removed and used to craft an ear identical to her right ear. The second part of the operation, where the ear will be inserted under the skin, will be performed at a later stage.

Little Anelisa was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, which left her without any ears. Sadly, she is battling to adjust to living with her condition, which sees her being relentlessly teased, and at just seven years old, is too young to undergo reconstructive surgery.

To provide some relief, especially for when she goes to school and out with her family, and to help her begin to build her confidence, surgeons will mould a pair of silicone ears for Anelisa, cast from the ears of a girl the same age as her. She will wear these until she is old enough to undergo the necessary surgery.

Eighteen-year-old Imildo is no stranger to Smile Week, having had previous surgeries to correct his cleft lip and cleft palate. There is just one more vital surgery he needs to complete his journey to a new life, rhinoplasty to correct the distinctive nasal anomaly associated with cleft lip patients.

Surgeons will reshape the cartilage and bone to create a more aesthetic and functional nose for Imildo, a major step forward as he embarks on his new path as a young adult.

Hedley Lewis, CEO of the Smile Foundation, says the organisation is overwhelmingly grateful for the phenomenal support of all the staff at the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital as well as the donor Airports Company South Africa which has enabled this Smile Week to support children who are in desperate need of surgical assistance.

“We are always amazed when we can change one child’s life, but being given the opportunity to transform the lives of 30 children – and those of their families – is just incredible! These children are being given a chance to have a new life, free from the physical and emotional pain associated with their conditions.

"What an amazing gift to give a person, and it’s all thanks to plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr Chris van der Walt, the dedicated medical team at PE Provincial Hospital, and the funding once again provided by Airports Company South Africa. I am overwhelmed by this support and the difference it allows us to make in the lives of these children,” says Lewis.

Airports Company South Africa has supported the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital Smile Week for several years. Based on the success of the previous Smile Weeks it has assisted, the company will extend its financial assistance from one Smile Week in the Eastern Cape to Smile Weeks in three additional provinces.

Says Refentse Shinners, Group Executive: Corporate Affairs at Airports Company South Africa: “We are very proud to have been part of such a life-changing initiative for some years now. This year we have extended our partnership to three additional public hospitals in Bloemfontein, Kimberley and George. We are excited about collaborating with the Smile Foundation and the medical staff to make a positive difference in the lives of more children who have had to endure the most heart-breaking psychological and physiological challenges.

“It is particularly moving to be able to play a role when people’s lives are changed for the better so fundamentally. We want to thank the surgeons and the medical teams for their continuing dedication and commitment to this effort. We also want to wish all of the patients the very best in life as they open this new chapter,” said Shinners.

The Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital Smile Week funded by Airports Company South Africa is taking place from Monday to Friday this week (12 to 16 August).

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