Two women, one older and one younger, stand with two children, a boy and younger girl, in a hospital room. They smile for the camera.

Four-year-old Siniva greeted the Interplast team with a cheeky smile and filled the clinic with energy. While not usually advised, her ability to run around the paediatric ward of Tapua Tamasese Meaole Hospital in Apia, Samoa was the delight of her family and staff.

We first met Siniva in March, when Dr Benjamin Norris successfully operated on her foot. Siniva had been burnt by boiling water, leaving severe scars on her hands and foot that slowly contracted as she healed. As she grew, the skin on the top of Siniva’s left foot fused to the front of her leg and over time her condition worsened, until she lost her ability to walk. These were some of the worst scar contractures the Interplast team had ever seen in Samoa.

A young girl with bandages on her arms and legs cuddles into the arms of her mother. An Interplast team member sits beside them.

Siniva with her mother and Interplast team member Dr Benjamin Norris in March 2023.

Dr Benjamin Norris reconstructed Siniva’s left foot using complex skin grafts and a flap technique. He took great care to protect the nerves in her foot, to maintain its sensation.

This October, Dr Norris was able to follow up with Siniva. Together, he and Dr Junior Posini successfully released the remaining burn scar contractures on Siniva’s hands. Interplast physiotherapist, Katie Anjou, then created a durable splint to prevent the scar contractures from reforming.

Interplast volunteer surgeon, Dr Damian Marucci, spoke to the essential need for post-surgical rehabilitation, saying “in many ways, 50% of a positive result is the reconstructive surgery, whilst the rest is achieved through splinting and rehabilitative exercises.”

Siniva’s aunt, grandmother and brother stood by her the whole time, sharing in her journey towards better mobility, increased function and many more smiles in the future. We hope to follow up with Siniva and her family on our next mobilisation to Samoa.