Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Paediatric Surgeon?

Paediatric surgeons specialise in the management of surgical conditions in all children ranging from newborns to teenagers.


Do I need a referral from?

You do not require a referral from another doctor to see the team of doctors, though most pateints are referred from other facilities.

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What to expect at your hospital visit

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My Child and Surgery

Who is on my child’s surgery team? 
On the day of your child’s surgery, you and your child will meet all who are involved in the surgery including the anaesthetist, and members of the nursing staff.


How will I find out details of my child’s surgery time? 
You will be contacted by phone no later than one day before your child’s surgery. If your surgery is scheduled for Monday, the latest you will be contacted is the Friday before the surgery.


Will my child need a blood test before surgery? 
Most children undergoing day surgery require no preoperative tests. If certain investigations are necessary in order to make the surgery as safe as possible, the doctors will advise you accordingly.


Can I stay with my child before surgery? 

You may accompany your child to the operating theatre and remain with him/her until he/she is asleep.


How will I know how my child’s surgery went?

The doctors and nurses will contact you either by phone or in person to discuss the outcome of your child’s surgery. The team will also provide you with instructions to follow at home to assist with a full, uneventful recovery.


How will I know when my child’s surgery is complete?

A member of staff will notify you.


Does the Team see children of all ages?

The team sees most children from birth up to the age of 14 years. The doctors also see parents of unborn babies who have been diagnosed with a suspected congenital abnormality.


Do I need a referral from?

You do not require a referral from another doctor to see the team of doctors, though most pateints are referred from other facilities.


What do I do in an emergency?

For emergencies outside office hours, you can receive assistance through the emergency department who will then triage and refer cases appropriately.


What if my child is admitted to hospital?

Having your child admitted to hospital can be distressing for your child and yourself. For this reason, we try to make your child’s stay with us as pleasant, and efficient as possible. Please speak to the doctors about any concerns you may have.

Admission and Surgery

On the day of the operation the doctors will see you and your child in the ward after your admission.

The anaesthetist will also see you and your child and discuss the various options available for your child’s procedure. In emergencies, the anaesthetist may only see you for the first time when you and your child arrive in theatre.

You may accompany your child to the operating theatre and remain with him/her until he/she is asleep.

Upon completion of the procedure, the doctors will personally discuss the findings and outcome with you.

Pre-operative Fasting Period

Every patient will be given specific starvation guidelines to follow on the day of the procedure. Failure to adhere to the guidelines may lead to a delay in your child’s procedure.

Why does my child need to fast?

General anaesthesia results in a temporary shutdown of the body’s normal reflex systems. When this occurs, patients are at risk of vommitting and aspiration.  In order to minimise the risk of general anaesthesia, it is important for all children to have empty tummies before their surgery. All procedures followed are in the interest of performing the safest surgery possible. Fasting is not dangerous for children, and if required, an intravenous line will be placed preoperatively to meet your child’s requirements.

How long should my child fast for?

Older Children

You may continue to feed your child solids up to 6 hours before surgery, and your child may take clear fluids (apple juice, grape juice, rooibos tea) up to 2 hours before surgery.


Babies on formula feeds should have their last meal of formula milk 6 hours before surgery. They may be sustained with clear fluids up to 2 hours prior to surgery. Breast fed babies may continue to feed to 4 hours before their procedure. 

Consultations and Day Procedures

We prepare for all of our patients to have a smooth experience.

What should we bring to our appointment? 

  • Road to Health Card (for all children under the age of 5)
  • Referral letter (if you have one)
  • Medical or personal records (including X-rays and lab tests)
  • A list of questions you may have for the doctors, and if your child is old enough, a list of his/her questions
  • Books, games, snacks, formula, nappies, change of baby clothes or other necessities.

How should I prepare my child for the operation?

Visiting a doctor’s office or hospital for any reason can be stressful for children of all ages. These tips can help you prepare your child for his/her visit:

  • Very young children don’t understand the concept of time. If your child is under 5, start the conversation just one or two days before your visit. Older children will need more prep time; plan to tell them about one to two weeks before your appointment, depending on your child’s age.
  • When describing the reason for your appointment, use simple words that your child will understand.
  • You may be tempted to tell your child things that aren’t true. Being honest with your child will help him/her trust you and the people she/he will meet at the hospital.
  • If you do not know the answer to your child’s question, tell your child that you don’t know, but that you will find out.
  • Encourage your child to discuss his/her feelings and to ask you questions. You may find that she is worrying about something that will not happen.
  • Be careful not to force a discussion if your child does not seem ready.


Preparing for your child’s overnight stay

If my child needs to stay in the hospital, can I stay with him/her?

A parent of a child who is exclusively breastfeeding, who is critically ill, or a parent who lives extremely far from the hospital may be able to lodge in the Surgeons For Little Lives sleep over facility during their child’s admission. For more information, please speak to the nurses and doctors.

What do I need to bring on the day of my child’s surgery?

Personal items are important to make children feel comfortable in the hospital. You may want to bring:

  • Comfortable daytime clothing
  • Favourite nightgown, pyjamas or robe
  • Slippers or shoes
  • Special comfort item (such as a bottle, book, toy or blanket)
  • A change of comfortable clothes to wear home after surgery
  • Please bring papers of guardianship that prove you are authorized to sign for medical procedures if you are not the birth parent of the child or have a different surname to your child.

What personal items should I bring for myself?

Some recommended items to help you be more comfortable during your child’s stay:

  • Comfortable clothes and shoes
  • Medicines you take regularly
  • Items that help you pass time, such as books, magazines, music, laptop computer, knitting

What is the going home process?

The doctors  and nurses will provide you with information on how to care for your child post operatively. You will also be guided on when to return for your check up.