Cochlear implant surgery goes on hand in the country | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 24, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 24, 2008

Cochlear implant surgery goes on hand in the country

Abdullah, the profoundly deaf patient who recently underwent a cochlear implant surgery at Mitford Hospital.

Nine-year-old Abdullah had never heard her mother's voice, nor had the sense of any sound. He had been suffering from profound hearing loss, a mutilation her parents discovered at his first birthday, when their baby was non reactive to any clatter.
But unlike most families in Bangladesh, who are willing to adopt their child with disability, Abdullah’s mother brought him to ENT specialists. They suggested a strong hearing aid but it proved to be ineffective after 2 years.
“I was quiet upset but never had given up hope. We sought overseas healthcare but nothing could refurbish his hearing. Finally our dream turned into reality when we consulted with Professor Dr Mohammad Abdullah who assured us to restore his hearing by cochlear implant. We knew a bit about cochlear implant in some foreign hospitals but never thought about performing it here in our country,” said Abdullah’s mother.
Abdullah’s parents, who live in Sylhet brought him to ENT Department of Mitford Hospital where he underwent cochlear implant surgery recently.
Department of Otolaryngology and Head-Neck Surgery (ENT) of Sir Salimullah Medical College and Mitford Hospital has started cochlear implant surgery at regular basis. Last week the department successfully performed four cochlear implant surgeries.
This was the second initiative and at the largest scale in the country so far. The department has taken steps forward for this revolutionary work of its kind first ever at a public hospital in the country at regular basis.
Cochlear implant is an electronic hearing device, designed to produce useful hearing sensations to a person with severe to profound deafness.
It is surgically implanted in the inner ear and activated by a device worn outside the ear. Unlike a hearing aid, it does not make sound louder or clearer. Instead, the device bypasses non functioning parts of the hearing system and directly stimulates the nerve of hearing, allowing deaf individuals to receive sound.
Statistics reveal that 3 million people in Bangladesh are suffering from variable degree of deafness. One out of every 1000 newborn children suffer from severe hearing impairment those could be helped with cochlear implants. Because of the high price of the device, very few patients of our country can afford it.
One child may be born deaf or one may become deaf suddenly. Experts identified genetic factor (that is transmitted mainly through marriage between consanguineous relatives), measles, mumps, rubella virus attack during pregnancy, taking some ototoxic drugs like Gentamycin, Frusamide are the culprits that damage the sound sensitive cochlea of a baby. Specialists advise to avoid the attacks from mentioned culprits to keep our hearing intact.
Expert views
Professor Dr Mohammad Abdullah is the pioneer of cochlear implant surgery in Bangladesh. He is the Head of the Department of Otolaryngology and Head-Neck Surgery of Sir Salimullah Medical College and Mitford Hospital and also the principal of that institute. In an interview with Star Health he shaded the light of different aspects of cochlear implant surgery in the country.
“Cochlear implant surgery can make a big difference to millions of our deaf people, specially children’s life. People suffering from severe to profound deafness really need the surgery. Very few of them could afford going abroad for this costly surgery. As an endeavour to make it accessible locally we started the surgery at this (Mitford) hospital on December 2006,” said Professor Dr Md Abdullah.
“Our target is focused on bringing hearing to every children living with deafness; because each child is special and they have a long lifetime ahead. Children learn and talk through hearing and those who is congenitally deaf also becomes dump. So children aged 2-5 years are the suitable candidates of the surgery and after that they can lead a normal life like any other children. I see people are becoming aware and sensitive regarding this matter. I see it as an achievement in fact. But more support and attention are needed to implement it throughout the country" he added.
Experts urged all sections to come forward to make it available to the doorstep of poor community. Allocation of adequate government budget and other supports are crucial in this regard. Extended services from NGOs and other humanitarian organisations are also important to make it reachable. They recommend support from banks who can give loan to the patients without interest. Experts urge to stand for the noble intervention, so more children like Abdullah get the gift of hearing.

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