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May 8, 2007

Gift of hearing for two children

From: Gulf Daily News - Manama,Bahrain - May 8, 2007


TWO profoundly deaf Bahraini children will receive special devices to enable them to hear, thanks to money raised by the Rotary Club of Adliya.

The club raised BD18,000 at its major fundraising event, the Bahrain Golf Invitational (BGI) in January, and decided it would dedicate the entire amount to help break the silence of two hearing impaired children.

A cochlear implant is an electronic device that provides individuals with severe-to-profound hearing loss enhanced sound perception and the potential for greater speech understanding.

It is aimed at those who do not benefit from conventional hearing aids because they have tiny hair cells in the inner ear (cochlea) that are damaged or missing.

Although the Health Ministry has a cochlear implant programme, there are 61 adults and children on the waiting list and 31 of them are younger than five, said Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) ear, nose and throat consultant Dr Ahmed Jamal.

He said the ministry has committed to helping 20 patients a year, but many of the children will reach the age of five without receiving the implants and this is too late for them to develop speaking skills.

"This donation is very important, we need to get the society to help these children, because 15 new cases are added each year," said Dr Jamal, who is also Bahrain Cochlear Implantation and Hearing Impairment Society chairman.

"These implants are very expensive and some can reach up to BD20,000, so we thank Rotary for this effort and we are sure the families will be very happy."

He said two Bahraini children below the age of two years had been identified and the operations were expected to be conducted at the SMC as soon as the implants arrived in the next few weeks.

Dr Jamal said Bahrain was working towards having a cochlear implants and hearing impairment centre.

The centre, he said, would be used to train doctors and speech therapists and provide medical services for patients.

"This year the BGI raised BD18,000 and all the income will be utilised for the two cochlear implants and related costs," Rotary Club of Adliya president Dr Yousef Mashal told the GDN.

Last year the BGI raised funds to buy eight pieces of Otto Acoustic Emission equipment to detect hearing loss in newborns. They were donated to the Health Ministry and are being used at maternity hospitals and health centres across the country.

© 2007, Gulf Daily News