Cochlear implants: To hear and speak, siblings undergo surgery

The procedure is the first of its kind in any public sector hospital in Pakistan and is free of complications," DUHS pro-vice chancellor, Prof. Umer Farooq.
KARACHI: For parents, a four-hour operation of their children could feel like a lifetime but to find out that they will be able to hear and speak again, could possibly be the best feeling in the world.
Four-year-old Mufsira and two-year-old Fazila’s parents recieved this news on Thursday when they found out that their children’s surgeries at the Cochlear Implant Centre in the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) were successful. Mufsira lost her hearing ability because of a viral infection and Fazila due to congenital deafness.
The cochlear implants will be activated 15 days after the children are discharged – but their parents will have to wait for about two years before their daughters can hear perfectly. Through a one-year language therapy course, they will recover their sense of hearing and respond step by step. According to the ENT specialists, Cochlear implant is a new technology and very effective for children below the age of five. Eight to nine steps are required during the operation. “The latest technology is being used in this surgery but it is a very complex and difficult operation,” said Dr Naveed Ahmed, an ENT surgeon from Australia who supervised the procedure.
Prof. Umer Farooq
A three-member team, comprising DUHS’ Prof. Umer Farooq and Dr Iqbal, who recently completed a three-month course in cochlear implant surgery from the United Kingdom, and ENT specialist and director of the International Relief Agency, Dr Haroon Javed, operated on the children.
“There were no complications or bleeding during these surgeries,” said Prof. Farooq. “We’ll facilitate patients as much as we can – if they can’t afford the treatment, we will appeal to people to donate generously for this cause so that more children could lead a normal life.”
The children’s father, Asif Ahmed, credited the operation’s success to the Prof. Umer Farooq. “We visited websites for information on Cochlear implant surgery and then asked Prof. Farooq for advice and help,” said Ahmed. “He was the one who encouraged us that the operation was possible. The tests and operations did not cost us a single penny.”
Breakthrough procedure
Prof. Farooq, the pro-vice chancellor of DUHS, said that the procedure is the first of its kind in any public sector hospital in Pakistan and is free of complications.
“In the congenital cases, a minute gadget is planted at a 45-degree angle in the child’s ear, which doesn’t cause any problems for the patient.”
Cochlear implants are quite common in most countries and performed on adults as well as children, he said. “This, however, is an expensive treatment and costs around Rs2.5 million in foreign countries.”
He explained that the centre at DUHS will provide the gadget and perform the surgery at extremely subsidised charges. The procedure would be free of charge for patients with financial constraints and would be paid through the zakat fund.
Mufsira and Fazila were chosen from among 14 children. “After the children went through a series of tests, these two were chosen due to the highest likelihood of success.”
With additional information from APP
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2012.