Ten children are undergoing life-changing reconstructive surgery in Cape Town as part of the NGO, the Smile Foundation’s Smile Week.

The transformative surgeries are taking place at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Ten-year-old Chrissie Maredi from Mpumulanga suffered 60% burn wounds to his body in 2017. The injuries resulted in a three-month stay at the hospital. The medical care and facilities needed to treat him were not available in his home town.

The Grade 4 learner is now back in Cape Town and will be part of a group of 10 children to undergo transformative procedures this week.

His mother, a resilent Rebecca Maredi says it hasn’t been easy.

“Since he got burnt, yes, it was really tough, but because of everyone’s support and the doctors everywhere we went, it was such a great help, actually.”

Head of the Burn Unit, Dr Gary Dos Passos, says they handle up to 4 000 burn visits per year. He says the incidents could often be prevented.

Dos Passos says burns are one of the leading causes of injuries to children and are most prevalent under the age of five.

“Hot water burns is the majority because they tend to be less severe, but they can also be life threatening and they can also cause severe scarring. So, hot water burns is maybe 80% and then 15% of that is flame burns which are usually more serious, and most of hot water burns are from accidents around the house.”

The reconstructive surgeries are part of Smile Week are made possible by donations made to the Smile Foundation.

“Any additional things that are needed… transportation, additional counselling, perhaps the family needs consumer bills, the medical equipment that the hospital needs… all those kinds of things. We use donor funding, and then that enables them to look after these children professionally,” says the Foundation’s Moria Gerszt.

The burn unit has advised parents that when a child is burnt the first and most important intervention is to cool the wound down by running room temperatures water over the wounds for 20 to 30 minutes.