kulula creates more smiles for South African children

Four children to receive facial reanimation during ‘Smile Surgeries’ sponsored by kulula

Johannesburg, 15 October 2012: One in one-million people are unable to express happiness in the form of a smile, due to facial paralysis (Moebius Syndrome). With the help of kulula fans, the airline, in partnership with The Smile Foundation, will grant four children life-changing facial reanimation surgery, also known as ‘Smile Surgery’, to correct facial paralysis, enabling them to smile.

‘Smile Surgery’ is an intensive surgery that takes between 8 to 15 hours to perform. It requires two surgical teams, one to harvest part of the gracilis muscle from the inner leg, and another to then transplant the muscle into the face and perform microsurgery.

The surgeries will take place from 15 – 17 October at The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, and from 23 – 24 October at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital. A team of top South African medical practitioners, including Professor George Psaras, Medical Director and Co-founder of The Smile Foundation, will perform these surgeries. Professor Psaras, who will be flying to SA from Cyprus, is one of a select number of surgeons in the world who has had extensive experience and success with this type of complex surgery. He has performed more than 23 of these surgeries since 2000.

“We are delighted to be part of such a worthy initiative with The Smile Foundation for the second year running. These surgeries will literally give these children the chance to smile – a natural ability that most of us take for granted,” says Nadine Damen, Marketing Manager of kulula.com.

The Smile Foundation has been partnering with academic hospitals in South Africa for 12 years to help underprivileged children with facial conditions receive corrective surgery. To date, almost 1 000 children have benefited from surgeries around the country through the Smile Week initiative in state academic hospitals.

“To be able to give a smile to these children is exceptionally gratifying for our organisation. Together with our partner kulula, we are making it possible for these children to express joy, happiness and excitement, something they have never been able to do,” says Moira Gerszt, Chief Operating Officer of The Smile Foundation.

For more information about The Smile Foundation visit www.smilefoundation.co.za or contact 0861ASMILE.

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About The Smile Foundation:

The Smile Foundation is a South African NGO that assists children with any type of facial conditions, to receive free corrective plastic and reconstructive surgery within South Africa. The NGO helps children who suffer from treatable facial abnormalities such as cleft lip and palate, burn victims, Moebius syndrome (facial paralysis) and other conditions. The Foundation is currently based in seven academic hospitals around South Africa. The Smile Foundation invests in medical teams they work with through a skills development programme, and assists the hospitals by purchasing equipment for use by the Department of plastic and reconstructive surgery. The Chief Patron, Nelson Mandela’s wish is for the NGO to assist as many children around South Africa as possible to alleviate the stigma attached to living with facial condition.

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