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April 12, 2005

Implants hope for deaf children

From: Gulf Daily News - Manama,Bahrain - Apr 12, 2005



DEAF children are being given new hope, with the restarting of a scheme to give them revolutionary cochlear implants.

The Health Ministry has restarted the programme and it is being conducted for the first time with an all-Bahraini surgical team, officials announced yesterday.

The ministry has donated BD152,000 to Salmaniya Medical Complex to restart the programme, which was put on hold two years ago because of budget restrictions.

The money will cover the costs of 11 cochlear implant operations and equipment needed for the operations.

Each cochlear implant costs BD12,000 and this does not include staff costs, hospital stay and other provisions.

SMC ear, nose and throat consultants Dr Abdulrahman Ghareeb and Dr Ahmed Jamal last week performed cochlear implant surgery on six patients.

They were supervised by Professor Roland Laszig from Freiburg, Germany, who has performed 1,500 cochlear implants.

The two surgeons will carry out another five operations in the next four to six weeks.

A cochlear implant is an electronic device that provides hearing sensation to individuals with severe-to-profound hearing loss, who do not benefit from hearing aids.

It is surgically implanted in the inner ear and activated by a device worn outside the ear.

The device carries electronic impulses to the nerve, allowing individuals who are profoundly hearing impaired to receive sound.

The sound at first will be muffled, but with training the non-verbal sound will be translated into verbal sound.

"Seventy per cent of the children who have cochlear implants and training will attend mainstream schools," said Dr Jamal, at a Press conference held at the SMC yesterday.

Fifteen children had received cochlear implants before the programme was stopped two years ago. Five of them now go to normal schools and there has been a good response from the others, said Dr Jamal.

Ali Ahmed, now aged three, was one of the last patients to have had the operation two years ago. He was just 11 months old then and now two years on he is able to speak to almost the same degree as any child of his age.

He currently attends the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Hearing and Speech Development Centre kindergarten school in Sanad and will go to a mainstream school when he is of age.

One of the patients to have had the operation last week was eight-year-old Hussein Mohammed Hussein.

Like most children needing cochlear implants, Hussein suffers from profound hearing loss (80pc loss).

He has been attending the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Hearing and Speech Development Centre for the last two years and is able to speak a little and communicate by lip reading.

"He can speak a little, but he could never hear," said father Mohammed Hussein.

"I'm too much happy, we needed to make the operation seven years ago, but thanks be to God we have it now. We hope he will be able to hear and go to a mainstream school in the future."

There are still another 23 children on the waiting list for cochlear implants and there are probably many more who need the help but are not registered, said Dr Ghareeb.

Those eligible for cochlear implants must be between a year and four years old and suffer from profound hearing loss.

If the child has intelligible speech then implants will be given up to the age of 10 years old.

"We need the society to support this programme, said Dr Ghareeb.

Copyright © 2004, Gulf Daily News