red cross doctors hiv

Red Cross doctors lauded for performing first-of-its-kind surgery

Young Angelique has a toe for a finger. How cute is that?

red cross doctors hiv

Dr Mark van der Merwe led the team of doctors from the renowned Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, that successfully performed a microvascular foot-to-hand transfer.

Cape Town ETC reported that the doctors successfully transferred one of Angelique’s toes to her finger. The four-year-old was born with a condition known as bilateral symbrachydactyly. It is a hand deformity that causes the bones in the hand to not form correctly.

Usually, it only affects one limb/ However, the case was different for Angelique, who was born without a hand on her left arm, as well as a deformed thumb on her right hand.

According to Cape Town ETC,

This surgery was painstakingly planned and researched after Angelique’s parents, Dirk and Anna, approached Dr van der Velde for assistance. Her first surgery took place when she was just six months old, and this was to augment her right middle and ring fingers.

Another surgery was performed when she was just over a year old, where she received a bone graft to lengthen her rudimentary thumb.

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All the praises pour in for Red Cross doctors for applying innovation to medicine

Contrary to popular belief that foot-to-hand surgery did not benefit the patient, Dr van der Merwe was encouraged to help the little girl.

“She needed a wider grasp, and, knowing that bone grafts don’t grow in proportion to the child, I sought the help of the world’s top pioneers of paediatric microvascular toe transfers who guided and encouraged me,

“The difference between a bone graft and a whole toe transfer is that a graft is a single bone without a blood supply whereas a whole toe comes with a blood supply, nerves, tendons and nail and confers far more length than a graft,” the doctor explained.

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It was a painstaking 11-hour process that saw the team of doctors build a new finger for Angelique. The next step for the four-year-old now is to regularly have sessions with an occupational therapist. This will help her train the mind and finger to coordinate with each other and help her, in the long run, grip larger objects.

Nomafrench Mbombo, the Western Cape’s Health MEC, congratulated the doctors for their exceptional, innovative work.

“The Western Cape Health Department is extremely proud of the quality of work done by our highly trained team of clinicians. They continuously strive to provide outstanding tertiary care for all patients of the Western Cape and beyond.

“Our clinical team continues to soar, placing the Western Cape Department of Health on the global map by providing these life-changing surgeries,” she said.