News Room


Smile Week sponsored by Adcock Ingram

2016/08/29 13:59:46

Smile Week offers renewed hope to 25 Free State children

Adcock Ingram sponsors week of surgery at Universitas Academic Hospital

5-9 September 2016


A total of 25 children from around the Free State will undergo reconstructive surgeries – ranging from bilateral and unilateral cleft repairs and soft palate repairs to alveolar bone grafts and pharyngeal flap surgeries – during a week of surgery – known as Smile Week.


Although many of the facial corrections are made during a single surgery, some patients have to undergo a number of procedures to achieve the desired correction.  This week is no different as at least two courageous patients will embark on another stage of multiple surgeries.


11-year-old Maki from Botshabelo and 12-year-old Rian from Bethlehem sustained burns to their faces as young children, resulting in severe facial disfigurements that have caused them much physical and emotional pain.  This year their stories of healing enter a new chapter, as both children return to Bloemfontein for the 2016 Universitas Academic Hospital Smile Week, sponsored by Adcock Ingram, taking place from 5 to 9 September 2016.


Here are their incredible stories: 


Although their injuries were of a very different nature, their journeys to recovery started in 2009 and 2010 respectively, when the Smile Foundation and generous sponsor Adcock Ingram assisted the children with much-needed interventions.


Maki’s story is an incredible one. She was just a year old when a candle fell over and set fire to the area where she was sitting, causing severe burns to her face, neck and hands, sadly losing all her fingers. Maki was immediately admitted to Pelonomi Hospital and later that night transferred to Universitas Hospital, where surgeons inserted a trachea tube to help her breathe.


Maki remained in hospital for three months, with mom Teresia constantly by her bedside. The early days were the hardest, as Maki’s eyes were severely swollen due to tissue damage, she was unable to speak due to the trachea tube and unable to do anything for herself due to the lack of fingers. Maki’s mom, who was responsible for changing her dressings, tube feeding her and cleaning the trachea tube daily to keep her airways open, recalls her daughter’s anguish as she battled intense pain and frustration in the months following the accident.


Two years later Maki attended her first Smile Week at Universitas Academic Hospital where surgeons began reconstruction work. This was followed by surgeries during the 2010 Smile Week to reconstruct her mouth and hands, and during the 2011 Smile Week, to remove the trachea tube and complete the reconstruction of her hands to enable her to hold a spoon to feed herself, and a pen so that she could learn to write and colour in.


No matter the extent of her injuries, they never broke Maki’s spirit: the little girl was the darling of the nursing staff when she was finally able to make sounds after the trachea tube was removed, and she was determined to try to feed herself before she left the hospital in 2011, laughing throughout her valiant attempts.


Today Maki is a beautiful 11-year-old girl who loves school – she is in Grade 4 at the Tswewleng special school for children with disabilities – and prides herself on the fact that she can do everything for herself…except tie her shoelaces!


Some of the proceeds from the 2016 Smile Week will be used for Maki over the coming months.


Rian experienced a different type of facial burn – one caused by the oxygen tube that was inserted in his little nose as a newborn, incubated shortly after birth. The tissue on the tip of his nose was burnt by the oxygen and had to be removed, leaving Rian with only part of his nose.


Rian is an orphan and lives with his grandmother Isabel, who has been by his side throughout his journey. She took him to his first Bloemfontein Smile Week sponsored by Adcock Ingram in 2010 where it was decided that a prosthetic nose would be created for Rian until he was old enough for reconstructive surgery.


Smile Foundation provided the funding necessary for Rian and Isabel to travel to Durban that same year where he saw Peter Fuber, who specialises in constructing artificial eyes, ears and noses. Rian was given a prosthetic nose crafted from silicon, but this was just a temporary solution, as he couldn’t wear the prosthesis when he was sick or had a runny nose, or when he played sport.


After several follow-ups over the years it was decided Rian would be ready for surgery at age 12, which was in 2016. The last phase of his surgery will be taking place at this upcoming Smile Week.


“Rian was originally identified for support of a prosthetic nose. At the time he needed to have a prosthesis until various other surgeries could take place based on his age and growth. His journey has taken years to get to this point, which is indicative of the Smile Foundation’s support of a patient as they travel their own road to recovery. We have continued to support Rian, particularly with assistance through the hospital where specialised equipment or extra funding was needed. We work collaboratively with the surgeons and the donor if such needs exist, to ensure the patient can grow up to be a happy and participative member of his community,” explains Moira Gerszt, Smile Foundation Operations Executive Director.



“As part of our commitment to supporting previously disadvantaged and vulnerable groups within our society, the Adcock Ingram Smile Week is one of the most rewarding projects that we support. This is our way of adding value to the lives of these young children, by giving them new smiles,” says Doreen Kosi, Adcock Ingram Executive in charge of the company’s public affairs department. “The facial reconstructions performed during Adcock Ingram Smile week are in line with our mission of ‘contributing meaningfully to the health and wellbeing of the people in the markets we serve’.”


“It is heart-warming to once again have the support of Adcock Ingram at Universitas Academic Hospital. This donor has always engaged with the parents and feels for all the children in the hospital during a Smile Week. They understand the challenges facing both the families and the hospitals, and together help us to augment the medical and other service delivery needs of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.



“Thank you to the surgical team for making this extra effort to support many more patients this week; we are so grateful that the hospital supports our mission within the public private partnership. Also, a huge thank you to Adcock Ingram for its continued support in making a difference to the future of children in South Africa,” adds Gerszt.


The 2016 Universitas Academic Hospital Smile Week, sponsored by Adcock Ingram, takes place from 5 to 9 September at Universitas Academic Hospital, 1 Logeman Street, Universitas, in Bloemfontein.


Media are invited to attend on Tuesday 6 September 2016 at 10am in ward 5B