We received a request from a organization in Mozambique to assist a young lady with life changing surgery. As part of our 1000 surgeries for one thousand children project of which 500 surgeries are for children in South Africa and 500 surgeries for children living in neighbouring Countries such as Namibia, Lesotho and Mozambique we agreed to attempt to help this 18 year old young lady.
Our cut off age in accordance to our mandate and regulations for surgical assistance is 18, so we are very pleased that we were contacted before she was an “adult” and we could no longer assist her.
Her name is Coleta and she was born with mandibular retrognathism and has ankylosis of the temporomandibular joint.
Coleta underwent 2 surgeries in Mozambique and Zimbabwe over time, but the surgeries proved to have been largely unsuccessful, and she is not able to open her mouth more than about 1cm with an inability to chew solid foods.
For folks not familiar with the terms “mandibular retrognathism” it means that Coleta’s lower jaw is set further back than the upper jaw, making it look like a person has a severe overbite and ankylosis of the temporomandibular joint means a disabling condition of mastication in which the condylar movement is limited by a mechanical problem in the joint. Simply put she can not open her mouth more than a centimetre and is unable to chew foods.
It is a serious and disabling condition that may cause problem in facial growth, mastication, swallowing, digestion, speech, appearance, and poor oral hygiene with rampant caries. Facial asymmetry develops if only one side is affected. Disturbances of facial and mandibular growth and acute compromise of the airway invariably result in physical and psychological disability.
Coleta is at significant risk of malnutrition, poor health, potential immature death, and dramatically lowered quality of life due to her significant deformity. She currently has intermittent jaw pain and can only eat soft foods. With her family’s minimal financial income, the amounts and types of food she has access to are limited. Of significant note, on her x-ray her third molars appear to be potentially impacting her second molars and have the potential to cause significant pain, further decreasing her ability to intake sufficient nutrition. Also, there is the risk of oral infection due to her third molars erupting and lack of hygiene from being unable to open jaw. There is reportedly no qualified dentist in Mozambique that can assist with dental complications with her molars without risk of seriously damaging or breaking her partially, if not fully fused, jaw. Her home country of Mozambique is unable to perform the necessary surgery to correct this situation and her Doctors referred her for treatment in South Africa and requires the service of a highly skilled oral and maxillofacial surgeon. The Hospital in Beira that treated Coleta was destroyed in Cyclone Idai, leaving her with nowhere to go for medical assistance and zero hope. The Central Hospital of Beira, where she was admitted, provided some of the best care before it sustained disastrous damage, and the doctors communicated with the hospitals in Maputo and confirmed that Mozambique does not have the means or resources to perform the surgery Coleta needs.
Her mother only earns $37-00 per month making it totally impossible for her Mom and Dad to help financially.
After considering the potential health implications if she does not receive specialised surgical assistance, we at Pediatric care Africa has pledged our assistance for Coleta and we will do our utmost to assist her, as we believe she deserves a chance to have a healthy happy and full life.