Burn victims treatment makes up a sizeable portion of the work that we do at the Smile Foundation. South Africa has a high occurrence of serious injuries due to burning, largely because of a variety of socio-economic factors including lack of electricity, inadequate housing and drug and alcohol abuse. A large percentage of major burn victims are the victims of shack fires, which are often caused by accidents with paraffin stoves, open fires and candles.
Each and every burn victim has unique requirements and the treatment process is both complex and prolonged. Most victims require extended stays in hospital where they will be subjected to stringent infection control measures, procedures to minimise burns scarring and post-trauma treatments including extensive reconstructive surgery.
Tissue expansion is the most common treatment for burn victims. This is a relatively straightforward procedure in which a silicone balloon expander is inserted under the skin near the area to be repaired and then gradually filled with salt water over time. This causes the skin to stretch and grow, providing extra skin, which can be used to reconstruct almost any part of the body.
Considering the complexity and sensitivity of the treatments required, it is easy to see how costly these treatments can become. Smile Foundation sets out to bring people together for the purpose of providing expert surgical intervention to those who could not otherwise get it. By providing the very best possible burn victims treatment to those who need it most, we hope to make a difference in the lives of child burn victims.