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 anaesthesiologist 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 Southern Mail’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 to theatre.

Capricorn resident, Crystal Green and her daughter, Rezaah, 6, were next in line to go into theatre. Ms Green said Rezaah would have six teeth extracted.

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

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

On Monday Ms Green told Southern Mail 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 singing in the mirror,” she said.

Capricorn resident, Kathleen Williams said her daughter, Rouchelle Lewin, 5, would have eight teeth extracted.

She said she was grateful that they had been chosen for the initiative as it otherwise could take months to get an appointment.

Ms Williams could not be reached for an update on how Rouchelle was doing after the procedure.

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.

Southern Mail followed Ms Green and her daughter, Rezaah, into theatre where members of staff prepared the child for the procedure, 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