Hospital performs milestone 50th cochlear implant

Three-year-old Monique afforded a chance at a normal life

Thursday, May 30 2013

Three-year-old Monique du Toit, who has been completely deaf since birth, became the 50th patient to receive a cochlear implant at Netcare Linksfield Hospital. This procedure will assist her to ‘hear’ for the very first time in her life.
The 50th cochlear implant performed at the hospital is a major milestone for both the hospital and deaf children in South Africa, according to Dr Maurice Hockman, the ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon who performed the surgery. Dr Hockman says the fact that larger numbers of cochlear procedures are now being performed confirms that this is becoming an accepted treatment option for many deaf people in South Africa.
Monique’s operation was made possible by 94.7 Highveld Stereo and the Bidvest Hear for Life Trust, which was established to provide financial assistance to people in need of this life-changing procedure. The Hear for Life Trust considers patients for treatment who have severe hearing loss, do not benefit from a hearing aid and do not have the financial means for cochlear implantation. Beneficiaries must live in Johannesburg and surrounds, within the footprint of 94.7 Highveld Stereo.
Monique’s parents, Maria and Sean, did not realise that their baby was deaf until it became evident that she was not responding to sounds. Tests confirmed that her hearing was impaired. Sean Du Toit says that his little girl is doing well after the operation and the family is looking forward to next Wednesday when the device will be turned on.
The Du Toits expressed their heartfelt thanks to 94.7 Highveld Stereo and Bidvest Hear for Life Trust, Dr Hockman and his team and Netcare Linksfield Hospital for making the operation possible. “Without their intervention, our little girl would not have had the opportunity to benefit from this technology,” says Sean Du Toit. “It is wonderful to know that there are still individuals and organisations prepared to go the extra mile to help.”
Dr Hockman says that Monique’s four hour long procedure went very well and she was discharged the following day. According to him, each patient reacts very differently to a cochlear implant and the success of the operation will depend on how well she responds to both the procedure itself and follow-up rehabilitation. He is, however, confident that the implant will have a highly positive impact on Monique’s quality of life.
A cochlear implant is a small electronic device, which helps deaf or severely hard of hearing people to recognise sounds. The device has an external component which is usually positioned behind the ear, and an internal component that is surgically implanted. The external sound processor is captures the sound, before filtering and processing it and turning it into digital code. The internal implant converts the digital code into electrical impulses and sends these to an electrode array in the cochlea or inner ear. These electrodes stimulate the cochlea’s hearing nerve and send impulses to the brain where they are interpreted as sound.
”The cochlear implant processor has become extremely sophisticated and the hearing outcome can now quite closely approximate normal hearing, with many patients being able to undertake a conversation on a telephone,” says Dr Hockman. “The gold standard outcome in children is for them to be able to attend a mainstream school. The earlier the child is implanted the better the prognosis and the chances of achieving this goal. Adults who have undergone the procedure should be able to return to full employment in their previous working environment and be able to communicate orally,” he adds.
Netcare Linksfield Hospital general manager, Linda Bossert, says the management and staff feel privileged to have reached the important milestone of 50 cochlear procedures. “It is gratifying to know that we have been able to assist so many precious individuals, all of whom deserve to be given the best possible chance in life,” she concludes.

Issued by : Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Linksfield Hospital
Contact :  Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney or Monique Vanek
Telephone : (011) 469 3016
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