The boy who has never eaten a solid meal in his life is well on his way to enjoying that lekker dik steak he’s been dreaming of after a life-changing operation to fix his deformed jaw this week.
Shane-Lee Koopman, 13, of De Doorns in the Boland, underwent the first of two intricate operations last Thursday and astounded everyone when he nibbled on tiny pieces of KFC chicken the next day.
“The last few months I had to drink everything through a straw so I am looking forward to eating a big piece of steak. I want to have a whole steak to myself,” the boy joked on Friday.
Shane-Lee, who has never been able to open his mouth wide enough to eat solid food, is one step closer to his food fantasy.
He was due to undergo the op in July but it had to be postponed after he was laid low by a bout of asthma.
Western Cape Health Department spokesperson Bianca Carls explains Shane-Lee’s jaw was deformed and “dramatically small” with the “lower jaw fused to the skull bone”.
“The medical team first had to lengthen Shane-Lee’s jaw through a complex and expensive procedure, which aimed to stretch bone, called Osseodistraction or Distraction Osteogenesis,” she says.
During the second phase of the op on Monday, the surgeons had to separate the jaw from the skull bone.
“The anaesthetic was very complicated as the jaw was fused to the skull bone and a special fibre-optic scope had to be used to do the anaesthetic procedure,” says Carls.
“Then we had to use fancy vibrating drills to remove the bony fusion without damaging the brain or big blood vessels.”
She adds that everything went according to plan and that Shane-Lee is expected to spend a week in hospital.
Shane-Lee’s mom Sharon Koopman says she got a skrik when they wheeled her son into the recovery room after the operation.
“It was the first time I saw him with his mouth open. I was speechless,” she says.
Unfortunately he won’t be able to have any cake on his 14th birthday tomorrow.
Sharon says Shane-Lee now has to undergo physio and speech therapy on his long road to recovery.