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Thu, 12 Dec 2019 23:59 GMT

Zimbabwe Doctors Perform the Country’s First Face Reconstruction Surgery

Lifestyle & Health

Fazila Mohamed

Wed, 14 Aug 2019 12:59 GMT

In a first for Zimbabwe, doctors successfully performed the facial reconstruction surgery. These sophisticated operations are usually performed in neighbouring.

South Africa, or in India, with high medical costs that are out of reach for many. Therefore, it would be a step forward for the country’s medical services if such operations could be delivered in Zimbabwe.  

Ruth Bhire, 19 years old, underwent a facial reconstruction procedure to remove a tumour that was growing on her right cheek. Before the procedure she had an uneven face due to the cancerous bulge.

"It all started as a small swelling, only for it to continue growing which pushed my teeth in. My father didn't have money for me to get treatment at the hospital to resolve this problem," said Ruth days before the surgery. As she comes from a poor family, her parents could not imagine her having the procedure done in South Africa, as it was out of their reach financially. However, well-wishers came together to fund the operation locally. 

"As a woman I want people to see my beauty, not for people to shun me or feel pity for me because of how I look," shared Ruth, on how society discriminates against those with challenging appearances. Not only was the procedure about reconstructing her face, but also to prevent the cancer from spreading, and making it life threatening.

Dr Trust Mutize, who was part of the team of doctors who performed the delicate operation, explained how they were going to do the reconstruction on Ruth, just before the surgery. " We wanted to remove as much of the tumour as possible. We were going to take part of the jaw that is affected by the tumour and replace that section with plates that will help continue with maintaining the functioning of the jaw.”

7Dnews has covered this incredible story of the young woman on Ruth's big day, when doctors performed this procedure successfully at Harare's second biggest government hospital, the Harare Central Hospital. The complicated procedure took hours to complete. 

A relatively low-key operation gauging from the coverage in the local and International media in the country, but this was a first for Zimbabwe, with local doctors reconstructing a face, but more so at a government hospital which struggles with resources, in an economy in recession, where medical care is very expensive. A more prominent medical breakthrough was the successful separation of Siamese twins by Zimbabwean doctors in 2014, which was done at Parirenyatwa Hospital.

Facial reconstructions are done all the time especially in developed countries, but for a nation like Zimbabwe to successfully perform one is a testament to the wealth of medical talent the nation has. The country is famed for having one of the most competitive medicine programmes in the world, regardless of the developing world difficulties that the nation endures from day to day. 

It may have been one of the hundreds of facial reconstruction procedures that took place on that day across the world, but that first one for Zimbabwe will make a world of a difference to Ruth, changing her life for the better. It may open countless opportunities and advancements in the medical field.

After the surgery, which was a success, Ruth is recuperating while doctors are monitoring and assessing her recovery.