Fayaaz to hear again after sound implant

TASNEEM HASSAN

After being born with profound hearing impairment, a 15-month-old boy received a free cochlear implant in his right ear, which will bring the joy of sound into his life.

The operation on little Fayaaz took place on Thursday March 3, on World Hearing Day at Netcare N1 City hospital, thanks to the Netcare Foundation and an international investment holding company.

Fayaaz’s mother, Yusrah Otto, 20, said she is eternally grateful for the opportunity to help her son hear. Ms Otto said in the first trimester of her pregnancy she had German measles, causing Fayaaz to be born with congenital rubella.

She said after his birth in November 2014, doctors told her that her son could encounter heart issues, blindness, deafness or even slow development of the brain due to the congenital rubella.

In April last year, Ms Otto and her partner, Shiraaz Smith, took their then five-month old child for a hearing test where he was diagnosed as deaf.

In September last year, he received hearings aids.

However, his hearing deteriorated, and the hearing aids were no longer able to help.

Ms Otto said Fayaaz’s audiologist, Surida Booysen, advised that he needed a cochlear implant in each ear.

For this they would have to raise at least R350 000 for each implant.

To Ms Otto’s surprise, two weeks later, Ms Booysen managed to get a sponsorship to have one cochlear implant for Fayaaz.

She said she is very grateful that her son has no other illnesses, and said that his brain development is on par for one year.

“We are so excited that Fayaaz was able to have the operation, which is important to his development and future well-being, and are grateful to these organisations for making it possible,” said Ms Otto, from Mitchell’s Plain.

Mr Smith said that they would like to convey gratitude to Professor James Loock and anaesthetist, Dr Simon Christie, for providing their time and expertise free-of-charge.

“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity and care that we have received,” said Mr Smith.

Ms Booysen, an audiologist at the Carel du Toit Centre in Parow and Tygerberg Hospital’s Stellenbosch University Cochlear Implant Unit, said people who have a cochlear implant are not able to hear in the same way that people with normal hearing do, but the implant can allow them to hear speech and sounds and learn to identify these.

She said many patients can go on to have conversations without having to resort to lip-reading and are able to lead full lives.

Ms Booysen said deafness can have a profound impact on the development of a child, but early implantation will give Fayaaz a chance to learn how to interpret sounds from a young age.

“We are therefore delighted that this joint initiative made it possible for him to have the device implanted.”

She said Fayaaz will require intensive follow-up speech and listening therapy sessions in the years to come, which the Carel du Toit Centre will be providing.

“We are also training his parents, so that they will be able to assist in Fayaaz’s speech development,” said Ms Booysen.

Professor Loock, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at Tygerberg Hospital’s Stellenbosch University Cochlear Implant Unit, undertook the procedure for free and said he was pleased with the outcome of the operation.

He said the device will be turned on in four weeks’ time, once Fayaaz had fully recovered from the operation.

Professor Loock said each patient reacts differently to a cochlear implant and the success of the operation depends on how well the patient responds to both the procedure itself and all-important follow-up therapies.

However, he expects the operation to be life-changing for Fayaaz.

Netcare N1 City Hospital’s general manager, Anton van Wyk, said the staff at the facility felt enormously privileged to have been of assistance to the brave young Fayaaz.

“We hope that the procedure will be a tremendous success and we wish him and his family a happy, healthy and fulfilled future.”

Mande Toubkin, Netcare’s general manager for emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment, said Fayaaz’s story is very special and the Netcare Foundation, Netcare’s corporate social investment arm, was honoured to be able to support this procedure, which will enable him to journey to the world of sound.