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Another Success for the DUT Dental Clinic
Date:Thursday, 19 July, 2012 - 13:00
She smiles confidently as she introduces herself while sitting pretty on a blue chair, even displaying a bit of mischief during the course of the interview.
One would never tell that this is the eight-year-old girl who recently lost her left eye in a traumatic rape meted out by a 15 year-old boy, who dragged her into a sugarcane field before violently attacking her, even trying to kill her.
On Thursday (19 July 2012), the Durban University of Technology’s Dental Clinic gave the little girl newfound confidence when they fitted her with a prosthetic eye. The cost of the procedure, which was done over four days, was fully borne by the University.
DUT Dental Technology Department Lecturer Peter Furber headed up the procedure. His previous work includes fitting a North West Province man - whose nose and jaw was shattered by drunken gunmen - with a life-like prosthetic nose and a set of new teeth. Furber has also fitted Hilda Petersen - the KZN woman whose skull was repeatedly smashed with a hammer and dabbed with acid by her estranged husband- with prosthetic eyes and skin.
The latest procedure was so successful that the schoolgirl did want her new eye to be removed after it was fitted for the first time.
Conducting the procedure was however not easy. With the assistance of her guardian, it took an entire day for Furber to gain the girl’s trust before the procedure, which is fairly invasive, could be done.
Furber said he had read about the story in the press. About a month ago, he received a call from an optometrist who asked if he would be able to help make a prosthesis for this patient. He agreed.
“A lot of children lose their eyes through disease or trauma. What was new with this patient is that apart from her guardian, she didn’t want anyone near her. With the assistance of her guardian, it took the whole day (first day of the procedure) to win her over. What happened to this little girl is terrible. It’s disgusting. She’s a wonderful child and for something like this to happen to her, to anyone in fact is atrocious”, said Furber.
Explaining the procedure, Furber said an impression of the empty socket was taken. This was necessary to create an exact replica. Once the eye impression was taken, the final model was then made. Furber said ensuring that the iris colour of the artificial eye matches that of the patient’s right eye was of utmost importance. “The eye was built in wax which was then be transferred to acrylic. After that, the white part of the eye and the veins was painted and we put a final layer of acrylic and the eye was ready,” said Furber.
A process like this takes three to four days to complete. The little girl’s guardian said she (the girl) was so excited about the eye that she was even admiring herself in the mirror. The guardian said she and the little girl are happy with the new eye.
“She’s eager to go back to school. This has given her back her confidence”, said the guardian. Asked what she wants to be when she grows up, the little girl said she wants to become a nurse so she can help people.
Caption: DUT Dental Technology Department Lecturer Peter Furber examines the final result of this week’s procure at the DUT Dental Clinic - the fitting of a prosthetic eye on an eight-year-old girl whose left eye was gouged after a traumatic rape.