Koena’s life takes a turn for the better

Treatment should be “life-changing” for young Polokwane man

Monday, December 7 2020

When the disfiguring keloid, that had covered his face and body for much of his young adulthood, was finally removed on 1 December, 19-year-old Koena Jacky Mokhari from Moletjie near Polokwane, was overjoyed.

Speaking after his procedure, a delighted Koena said: “This keloid scarring had become really painful and everyone used to stare at me whenever I went out in public. The growth had become more and more difficult to live with and I am so happy that I have had the opportunity to have it removed. The surgeon and team at Netcare Pholoso Hospital have done a really great job of removing it and I am so grateful to them all.”

Koena’s surgery and treatment were made possible thanks to a partnership between the Netcare Foundation, the Limpopo Department of Health (LDoH), Netcare Pholoso Hospital and private healthcare practitioners. The procedure took place at Netcare Pholoso Hospital after Koena’s school exams and was followed by three days of radiation treatment to prevent the keloid from reoccurring.

The young man’s mother, Ms Matswene Tryphosa Mokhari, says that the keloid had a very negative impact on her son’s confidence, and that he had even started waking up at night in terrible pain. “Thank you, thank you so much to the Limpopo Department of Health, Netcare Foundation, Netcare Pholoso Hospital, the MEC of Health, the doctors and everyone for making it possible my son to have this operation,” said a grateful Mrs Mokhari.

Netcare way

“We appreciate the partnership and collaboration between our department, the Netcare Foundation, Netcare Pholoso Hospital and the doctors and healthcare teams at Mankweng and Netcare Pholoso hospitals and thank everyone who has volunteered to participate in this initiative. It is gratifying how they always heed our call and sacrifice their time pro bono to help the poorest of the poor. These are South Africans who are worthy of honour and celebration,” she added.
Dr Thendo Netshiongolwe, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who practises at Mankweng Hospital and Netcare Pholoso Hospital, who undertook the procedure, says that he is delighted with the outcome of the operation, the entire keloid having been successfully removed. “My surgical team and I are pleased that we could assist this young man and we fully expect the procedure and follow-up treatments to make a really meaningful difference to his life.”

He added that it is not known what causes keloids, but that they tend to develop and grow in an area of skin that has been scarred by a previous injury. “Keloids occur relatively commonly within the local Limpopo population and their removal is one of the most common procedures that I perform at Netcare Pholoso Hospital. Koena, however, had an unusually large keloid that covered more than half of his face and much of his body, which is rare.”  

She added that Koena started developing the keloid, a type of abnormal skin growth, on his face six years ago and it grew steadily larger until it covered much of his face and also developed on his body.  

A multi-disciplinary team, which included a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, radiation oncologist, anaesthetists, and dentists have been involved in his medical treatment. Koena has also been provided with psychosocial support from a team of psychologists and social workers who will assist him with his re-integration into his community. The plastic surgery department at Mankweng hospital will continue management of Koena’s condition, which will include a second stage, minor follow-up surgery to complete the reconstruction.

Visiting Koena after his operation, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, MEC of Health, Limpopo Department of Health commended the public and private health sectors for the collaboration and also thanked two businesses which also stepped forward to assist him. She encouraged Koena to pursue his studies and to make the best of the life-changing opportunity that has been given to him.

Commenting on the case she said: “As the Limpopo Department of Health, we have made an undertaking to improve the health of the community we serve. When I became aware of the plight of this young man, my team immediately brought together various stakeholders to assist in changing his life.”

Dr Tumelo Moyaba, an oncologist at Limpopo Oncology, said that the Koena needed the three days of follow-up radiation treatment after the surgery to assist in preventing a reoccurrence of the condition. “Without the follow-up radiation treatment, the keloid would have an 80% chance of re-occurring after the surgery, which is why it is such a necessary part of Koena’s therapy,” notes Dr Moyaba.

The Netcare Foundation is covering the costs associated with Koena’s hospital admission, surgical intervention and radiation oncology care and the LDoH is providing the consumables and medication, follow-up care and management, long-term psychosocial support and the pre- and post-op assessments.

Mande Toubkin, who heads the corporate social investment (CSI) department in Netcare and is also a director of the Netcare Foundation, Netcare’s CSI arm, says that the Foundation was delighted to fund Koena’s procedure and care.

“We trust that the treatments will be completely life-changing for Koena. Throughout our Netcare operations, doctors and staff members have a deep commitment to assist in improving the quality of life of less privileged individuals and communities through many different outreach initiatives. The Netcare Foundation therefore wholeheartedly supports cases such as Koena’s and we wish him all the very best into the future,” she says.

Toubkin explains that the Netcare Foundation funds a number of specialised surgical programmes on an ongoing basis. These include craniofacial surgery to correct severe facial anomalies, surgical correction of cleft lip and palate mainly in babies and children, cochlear implants that enable children to hear, and cataract surgery to restore the sight mostly of senior citizens.

A local driving school presented Koena with a R4 000 voucher for free driving lessons and registration for learners and drivers licence testing. They were joined by a local retail store who supplied him with a brand-new laptop, laptop bag, gaming earphones and a cell phone. The gifts are intended to help Koena to re-integrate back into the community.

To find out more about the services offered through Netcare hospitals and other of the Group’s facilities, please contact Netcare’s customer service centre either by email at [email protected] or phone 0860 NETCARE (0860 638 2273). Note that the centre operates Mondays to Fridays from 08:00 to 16:00.

Looking for a medical appointment? Netcare appointmed™ will make appointments with specialists practising at Netcare hospitals, GPs and dentists at Medicross medical and dental centres, and specialists at Akeso mental health facilities for YOU. Simply phone Netcare appointmed™ on 0860 555 565, Mondays to Fridays between 08:00 and 17:00, or go online at to request an appointment.

For more information on this media release, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.

Issued by:            MNA on behalf of Netcare Foundation, Netcare Pholoso Hospital and the Limpopo Department of Health
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]

For Limpopo Department of Health enquiries please contact:
Contact:    Thilivhali Muavha
Telephone:    0660117034