A juicy steak and KFC are finally on the menu for this young boy who has never eaten a solid meal in his life.
Shane-Lee Koopman, 14, of De Doorns in the Boland says although he is still on a diet of soft foods after a big operation to fix his deformed jaw, he is looking forward to eating “regte kos” soon.
The teenager says he cried tears of joy when for the first time, he saw a photo of himself with his mouth wide open after the eight-hour operation at Tygerberg Hospital last week Monday.
“I was so happy when I saw the photo that shows my mouth open,” says Shane-Lee, who could only open his mouth wide enough to sip from a straw.
On Friday, doctors removed a device he had to wear since the operation to keep his jaw open.
“I also have to use something like a baby dummy to stretch my muscles.
“It hurts a lot,” says Shane-Lee who still faces a long road to recovery.
He will have to undergo physiotherapy and speech therapy to learn to use his new jaw.
“I have to chew bubblegum to help strengthen my muscles,” he explains.
Mom Sharon Koopman says this is the first time Shane-Lee has ever chewed bubblegum.
“He is so excited about it. And he looks in the mirror all the time. He can’t believe that he can move his jaw,” Sharon laughs.
Although Shane-Lee spent his 14th birthday in hospital, he received lots of surprises.
“The nurses put balloons in my room and two other patients made (composed) me a song.
“I also got cake and some gifts,” he smiles.
Sharon adds that doctors are due to remove Shane-Lee’s stitches today.
“Hopefully after that we’ll be able to go home,” says Sharon.
Health Department spokesperson Bianca Carls says the operation was successful and that Shane Lee “is recuperating well”.