Ebullient Caleb said he somehow knew that this dream would become a reality before it was time for him to enter the job market. “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to stand on our feet. It is not about how big or small the present is but the heart behind the gift,” Kalala told a room packed with the people who have worked tirelessly to make the surgery possible.
Abandoned by their parents soon after birth, Caleb (16) and Kalala (19) spent many years fending for themselves until they were taken in by Kids Haven in Benoni, a non-profit organisation founded in 1992 by Moira Simpson, which currently provides care for over 200 street children.
According to Dr Mark Eltringham, orthopaedic surgeon at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, the brothers suffered from multiple untreated bone and joint infections in their childhood years, which caused severe deformities to the bones. Caleb and Kalala have been severely handicapped and unable to walk with ease. Following a chance meeting with Jalna le Roux, professional liaison network manager, Clinical Partners, Netcare, a process was put into motion that would unite a number of individuals and organisations to make their treatment possible.
Jalna was alerted to the brothers’ plight by her niece who works as a student at Belvedere School for children with learning disabilities. She contacted her friend, Andre Lingenfelder, group business services manager at Netcare’s information systems department (ISD), who rallied the ISD team and hosted a fundraising charity ball to which ISD’s vendors were invited. This event raised R145 000 towards the brothers’ operations. To ensure sound governance, the process and funding are being managed by the Netcare Foundation.
The operations will be performed on 20th July 2013 by Dr Eltringham, who is a firm believer in providing medical care to those without access to the appropriate treatment.
Caleb’s surgery will focus on getting his right leg, which is twisted 90 degrees, to face forward, explains Dr Eltringham. This complex procedure involves breaking and lengthening the bone and slowly rotating the bone over an extended period using an external fixator. “For Kalala we will focus on straightening his right knee, which is knobbed, by cutting the thigh bone and securing it with a plate in the correct position”.
The teenagers’ recovery is expected to take three to six months. “Depending on how they respond to this treatment we will decide on the next steps, but they will most likely require several more procedures,” he adds.
Lingenfelder says the operation is truly a Netcare driven initiative. Netcare Sunninghill Hospital is sponsoring the brothers’ theatre and hospitalisation costs. The hospital’s general manager, Robert Jordaan, and his team also approached various companies and individuals for assistance, to ensure the operations would take place.
Ampath will assist with pathology services and blood tests, says its area manager Eleni Giannakopoulos. Jennifer Bowles and her team at the hospital will provide physiotherapy. “This will start before the operation with teaching the brothers how to walk on crutches and continue for the duration of their rehabilitation,” she says. Dr Farrell Spiro’s team in the radiology department at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital will do the required X-rays. B. Braun is supplying the sutures for the surgical procedures. Smith & Nephew is providing the external fixators and products required for wound management. Lindie Henricho from Linja Real Estate presented the brothers with Android tablets.
Netcare’s communications director, Kerishnie Naiker extended sincere gratitude to all who have generously contributed to the well being of Caleb and Kalala. “A collaborative effort such as this is truly heart-warming. We applaud Caleb and Kalala as well as our members of staff who live the Netcare Way and have inspired others to assist. It’s soul-uplifting to witness the determination, appreciation and passion of these two special brothers”, she added.
Those wishing to contribute to Caleb and Kalala’s treatment may donate money through the following account: Netcare Foundation, Nedbank current account, Account number 1006139702, Branch code 187505. Benefactors need to indicate clearly that the donation is specifically intended for Caleb and Kalala, says Mande Toubkin, Netcare’s general manager emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment.