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Fire victim celebrates operation success

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By SHAUN SMILLIE

Johannesburg - Franklin Mochadibane has a new look and it is all because of two types of skin.

The first layer of skin came from the hide of a pig, the other from a graft taken from his scalp.

Now Mochadibane, 19, is on the mend and he will be showing off his new face to his aunt and mother in Soweto at the weekend.

The Grade 11 pupil arrived back in Joburg on Wednesday after a lengthy stay in the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. He was there to have the keloid scarring on his face removed.

Mochadibane received these raised scars when a fuel gel canister exploded while he was trying to boil water. He was 12 years old at the time.

The explosion resulted in severe burns to his face, arms and chest.

To remove the keloids, care had to be taken that they would not return and to do this a rather unique procedure had to be done.

Professor Don Hudson and Dr Shaun Moodley worked on Mochadibane’s face over a period of three weeks.

They cut away the raised lesions, then placed Pelnac artificial skin over the wound.

What this is, explained Tori Cilliers, the group brand manager for Pelnac, is a layer of porcine collagen, which is taken from the skin of a pig, and a layer of silicon.

After the silicon begins peeling off, a skin graft taken from Mochadibane’s scalp is placed on the wound and over the porcine collagen.

“The collagen acts as scaffolding, allowing the capillaries to start to grow, to supply the skin graft,” she said.

The procedure is not all that new, said Cilliers. it has been around for at least three years, but this is the first time that a patient from Children of Fire, an organisation that deals with burn victims, has undergone the procedure.

For Mochadibane the operation meant three weeks in bed, where he wasn’t allowed to move his head or neck. His scalp itched from where surgeons had taken the graft and he couldn’t even watch TV.

After his accident, he had spent nine months in the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Academic Hospital. “This time it was worth the pain,” he said.

On Thursday, at the Children of Fire premises in Melville, Mochadibane said: “Everyone is looking forward to seeing me.”

But the weekend won’t be all fun; Mochadibane has a maths exam to study for, which is essential for his plan to go to university and study aeronautical engineering.

In the meantime, he can’t wait to taste his aunty’s fried chicken.

In February, he will be back in Cape Town, where doctors will assess how well his skin is healing.

shaun.smillie@inl.co.za

The Star

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