Mandela Day initiative makes children smile

Rezaah Green, 6 in theatre surrounded by False Bay Hospital dentist Dr Lynne Steenkamp-Collison, dental assistant Peggy Mashalaba and anesthesiologist, Dr Hoosain Lalkhen.

The False Bay Hospital and the provincial Department of Health gave 20 children their smiles back by performing free dental extractions of milk teeth with cavities as part of the hospital’s Mandela Day initiative, Operation 100.

During the Echo’s visit to the hospital, on Thursday July 5, there were smiles all round from the parents and the children as they waited – wearing scrubs – for their turn to go into theatre.

Masiphumeleleresident, Babalwa Grabile said her son, Likamva, 6, would have two teeth extracted. She said despite his brother, Likhakha, 10, explaining to him what would happen he had been very excited to make his way to hospital.

“I don’t think he knows what is going to happen,” she said.

She said the hospital was providing residents with a good service, and she was grateful they were among the chosen ones for the procedure.

On Monday, Ms Grabile told the Echo her son was doing well after the procedure.

“His gums were swollen on Friday, and he was grumpy, but he is much better now,” she said.

Capricorn resident, Crystal Green’s daughter, Rezaah, 6, was next in line to go to theatre. Ms Green said Rezaah would have six teeth extracted.

She said since eating her last meal the previous night at 8pm, Rezaah had been very excited about her hospital visit.

“She told everyone she is getting false teeth,” she said laughing.

On Monday, Ms Green told the Echo that her daughter was doing well after the procedure.

“She had a bit of pain on Friday, but after taking some Panado, she was much better.

“She is now running around and playing as usual and singing in the mirror,” she said.

False Bay Hospital dentist Dr Lynne Steenkamp-Collison said they usually saw five to 10 patients a day.

She said all the milk-teeth extractions would be done in theatre as it was less traumatic for the children than doing it in the chair.

“Some are having 12 teeth extracted and it will be more comfortable for them in theatre,” she said.

Although the milk teeth are temporary, she said it was best to remove them if they had cavities to maintain good oral health.

The parents will be provided with a post-operation information pack as well as advice and pamphlets on how to maintain good oral health.

“We encourage them to come back every six months for a check-up,” she said.

The Echo followed Ms Green and her daughter, Rezaah, into theatre where members of staff prepared her, and Ms Green was allowed to assist by holding the anaesthesia mask to her daughter’s face.

Department of Health spokeswoman, Monique Johnstone, said the department had helped 67 people – doing 27 hip-and-or-knee replacements and 40 cataract surgeries – for Mandela Day last year. This year it wanted to help 100 vulnerable members of society.

The patients chosen for the procedures were identified through the department’s central waiting list. The department will perform additional operations for the 2018 Operation 100 which will include, hip and knee surgeries; ear, nose and throat procedures; cataract operations; sterilisation and dental procedures at hospitals across Cape Town.

Ms Johnstone said the department would be sharing the patients’ stories on social media on Facebook at