2-year-old Zara was diagnosed with a bilateral profound hearing loss. The team from the Johannesburg Cochlear Implant Centre determined that Zara is a good candidate for cochlear implant and recommended that she should get implants as soon as possible. The cost of these assessments, therapy and implantation are high and if a family chooses to go the cochlear implant route, they need to be able to commit to at least three years of speech therapy and the maintenance of the device. The probable cost for all intervention falls between R500 000.00 (one ear) and R800 000.00 if both ears are implanted.
Zara has always been an energetic baby reaching all her milestones way before time. A few months after Zara had turned 1, her family began worrying about her lack of speech. Many people told her parents that it would come, she was still young. But they weren’t satisfied so they took her to a few different paediatricians, all with the same result, she’s still young, she’s too busy and the obvious fact that she did what we would ask her to, gave them no signs of concern. She always had her own way of communicating with us and getting her point across – a feisty little girl.
Her parents were not convinced and decided to take her to an ENT, Dr Lalla at Lenmed. He had a middle ear test done, which showed no real signs of concern, however to put my heart at rest, he referred them to an audiologist for further testing.
She did an inner ear test of which the results were “inconclusive”, she was almost certain that further testing needed to be done, arranged an urgent appointment at the Ear Institute of Pretoria for Zara to have an ABR test done (An Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) is a test an audiologist can perform which measures your brain’s response to sound. It uses electrodes placed in strategic locations on the head to determine how well your acoustic nerve transmits the signal representing sound from the cochlea to the brain). She needed to be sedated for this test, as you are required to be very still and the duration is about an hour long. Zara’s mother sobbed all the way leading up to this day and for that hour she was in complete panic mode, already playing out the different scenarios in her head.
Then it was confirmed Zara was diagnosed with Sensorineural Hearing Loss which occurs when the hearing organ, the Cochlea, and/or the auditory nerve is damaged or malfunctions, so it is unable to accurately send the electrical information to the brain. In Zara’s case, the problem lies with her nerves (hair cells) within the Cochlear.
The pledge of R100,000.00 that Netcare made towards Teddython 2019 is being put towards Zara’s hearing, as well as a further R280,000.00 from Netcare towards medical assistance.
The operation will go ahead today!
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