Christopher Jackson, a municipal worker, had his bottom jaw removed to get rid of a cancer that was the size of a fist.
The operation at Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital was conducted last weekend by Dr Marc Donnai and Dr Frank Graewe, head of plastic surgery at Tygerberg. The doctors then reshaped the jaw bone using bone from Jackson's lower leg.
Advertisement"It takes a while, but when you see these patients about a year down the line all the swelling has gone, the stitches are hardly visible, and they look completely normal," said Dr Donnai. The survival rate of the type of tumor that Jackson has is very little.
"But without the treatment, he would not have made it to the end of the year," Donnai said.
The surgery has left Jackson speechless for the moment and he has a pipe down his throat to aid his breathing. However that is a small price to pay for surviving oral cancer.