After years of silence, 5 kids have hope to hear againPublished On: Tue, Sep 27th, 2011 | Children's Health | By BioNews
Six year-old Raunak clutches his mother’s right hand and looks at her with curious eyes trying to read every word that she speaks. Having lost hearing power from meningitis when he was 5, he has a new hope of regaining it after undergoing a complex surgery.
Raunak is not alone. Four other children underwent the complex auditory brain implant (ABI) surgery on three consecutive days at the B.L.K hospital here this month.
“After Raunak was recovering from meningitis, he once said that he cannot hear anything. As a son and mother, we shared a bond … It’s been ages since we have spoken,” a teary-eyed Hema, Raunak’s mother, said.
The five children came here from various parts of the country — Punjab, Uttarkhand, and Delhi.
The ABI technique restores hearing sensation by placement of an electronic device in the brain. Followed by speech therapy, the technique takes at least two months before the brain can respond to the chip and can be switched on.
The surgery costs around Rs 15 lakh while the same is the cost of the implant.
While all the children were aged between 2 and 6 years, doctors say ABI is ruled out after the age of 5 years.
“In these 5 children, not all of them were born deaf. Some of them suffered hearing loss due to some other reasons. So, for children born without the hearing tool called auditory nerve, ABI is ruled out after the age of 5,” said J.M. Hans, senior consultant and chairman, ENT department at the hospital.
“The causes could be marriages within the families, meningitis, or even German measles,” Hans added.
The onus, say doctors, is more on how quickly the parents respond to realise the child is born deaf.
For South Delhi resident Rajan Bhatia, it was after two months of his son Kartik’s birth that the family could realise about the hearing defect.
“Kartik used to watch TV along with his sister, but he never responded. We thought it might take some time for him to respond… but one day he remained calm even when he was close to a railway track,” Bhatia told IANS. “It was then that we realised something is wrong …”
For the families, the hopes now rest on speech therapy when their children are able come out of their silent world once again.