The sound of silence, gone forever
Two toddlers undergo sponsored cochlear implant procedures at Cape Town hospital
Recently, two deaf toddlers received the gift of a lifetime. Cinga Lande (2) and Oyena Qulwa (5) underwent cochlear implant surgery at Netcare N1 City Hospital. These implants will greatly improve their hearing ability and will change their lives forever.
“A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that bypasses the function of the damaged part of the inner ear, the delicate “hair cells” of the cochlea, thereby providing sound signals to the brain,” explains Professor James Loock, an ear, nose and throat surgeon of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at Tygerberg Hospital – Stellenbosch University Cochlear Implant Unit.
“However, cochlear implants are costly and many people who are ideal candidates for the procedure unfortunately cannot afford it,” says Prof Loock. “Cinga was born deaf and Oyena’s deafness was caused by illness. Both of them qualified for the procedure and it would have been terribly sad if they were unable to receive the implants due to financial constraints. We therefore came up with a special plan to change the lives of these children.”
The Bidvest Hear for Life Trust considers patients for treatment who have severe hearing loss that cannot be corrected by a hearing aid, and who do not have medical aid membership. The trust sponsored both cochlear devices in full and Prof Loock and his anaesthetist, Dr Francois Visser, provided their time and expertise by performing the procedures free of charge at Netcare N1 City Hospital. The Netcare Foundation paid the hospitalisation and theatre costs for both children.
“Both procedures went very well and the two youngsters were only kept overnight for observation and were discharged the day after their procedures,” shared Dr Loock.
Their parents are simply thrilled and expressed their gratitude towards the Netcare Foundation, The Bidvest Hear for Life Trust as well as Prof Loock. Each child received an adorable koala bear soft toy as a companion to take home.
“Both procedures were broadcast live from the Netcare N1 City Hospital’s interventional theatre where the media and other doctors could watch and ask questions as the procedures progressed,” explained Prof Loock. “It was a wonderful way to educate the public and other health care practitioners on the impact that cochlear implants have on the lives of deaf people.”
“We would like to urge the public to support deaf people in their community. Some deaf people cannot be assisted with cochlear implantation, and some also choose to remain deaf. They also deserve support and acceptance from society. But some want cochlear implantation and benefit tremendously from it. If there is someone that qualifies for a cochlear implant but cannot afford it, we try to raise funds for them. The gift of sound is the best gift you can ever give them,” concludes Prof Loock.