Born deaf, Yemeni girl can hear now, may talk like any other child

A nine-year-old differently-abled girl from Yemen has been empowered with the ability to hear by a team of doctors at the MS Ramaiah Hospital in the City.

In a first such surgery at the hospital, the girl underwent Cochlear Implantation. With regular speech training, she will be able to pick up language skills soon and talk like any other normal child.

The family scouted around for the right place to get the surgery done before zeroing in on the MS Ramaiah Hospital. The surgery was performed on November 23, 2014, by Dr Rajesh Vishwakarma, a surgeon from Ahmedabad, along with Dr Chandra Kiran, prof and head of the Department of ENT and Head and Neck Surgery at the MS Ramaiah Medical College.

The successful surgery is a milestone for the hospital as few surgeons in Karnataka are competent to perform the complicated procedure. The hospital is also initiating a Cochlear Implantation Programme. According to Dr Kiran, there are just six centres across the State where the surgery is done. Owing to lack of trained specialists in the area and the cost of the procedure (Rs 6-12 lakh), the surgery is yet to become popular, he said.

The surgery can be performed best when the patient is aged between 18 and 30 months but it can be performed on older people too. Explaining the procedure, Dr Kiran said, “In this surgery, an electrode is implanted near the hearing nerve, which stimulates hearing. Later, with the help of audio specialists and speech therapists, the languages skills can be picked up.”

This is an advanced procedure than a hearing aid, in which the sound does not hit the hearing nerve and hence it is not as good as normal. In this case, the electrode implant is right next to the nerve and hence it is far more efficient. An external speech processor and the microphone, which can be placed in a shirt pocket, will connect to a receiver concealed behind the ear.

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