New body seeks to bring hear­ing

Grocott's Mail - - SOUL FOOD - STAFF RE­PORTER

Anew or­gan­i­sa­tion has been es­tab­lished to bring hear­ing to peo­ple with se­vere hear­ing im­pair­ments in the Eastern Cape and to raise aware­ness around the is­sues of hear­ing im­pair­ments.

Joy of Hear­ing was of­fi­cially launched on Fri­day 13 October with the aim of as­sist­ing chil­dren and adults in the Eastern Cape with se­ri­ous hear­ing im­pair­ment who are un­able to cover the cost of a cochlear im­plant.

”There are many chil­dren and adults in the Eastern Cape who have se­vere-topro­found hear­ing loss that can have a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on them and their fam­i­lies, but be­cause of fi­nan­cial con­straints do not have ac­cess to cochlear im­plant tech­nol­ogy,” said Dr Eben Nel, who is one of the di­rec­tors.

“Cochlear im­plants pro­vide the op­por­tu­nity to re­store hear­ing or pro­vide hear­ing for the first time to these in­di­vid­u­als and gives them the con­fi­dence to live a full and pro­duc­tive life,” he said.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion also aims to cre­ate aware­ness of the chal­lenges of hear­ing im­paired peo­ple and to act as ad­vo­cates for the hear­ing im­paired.

For chil­dren born deaf, the abil­ity to reach their full po­ten­tial will be se­ri­ously com- promised, Nel said.

The cost of hav­ing the pro­ce­dure, as well as the main­te­nance of the ap­pa­ra­tus, put the pro­ce­dure out of reach for most, Nel said, with the Eastern Cape be­ing one of the poor­est and most needy ar­eas in South Africa.

Nel is joined on the board by Loftie Fourie and Dr Jeff Goven­der. An ad­vi­sory board is com­prised of Dr Fran­cois Retief and Dr Iain But­ler, ear, nose and throat sur­geons who spe­cialise in cochlear im­plants.

The foun­da­tion has a spe­cial place for the Nels, whose lives have been per­son­ally af­fected by the pos­i­tive im­pact that a cochlear im­plant can have.

“Af­ter 30 years of hear­ing chal­lenges, overnight I lost all re­main­ing hear­ing abil­ity. All at­tempts to in­ter­vene med­i­cally were un­suc­cess­ful,” said Mar­l­ize Nel, Eben’s wife and ad­min­is­tra­tor of the new or­gan­i­sa­tion.

She said a cochlear im­plant had been the only op­tion, but it was not guar­an­teed due to com­pli­ca­tions caused by pre­vi­ous at­tempted in­ter­ven­tions.

“I ex­pe­ri­enced a dra­matic dis­con­nect with friends, family and the out­side world, and felt isolated and de­pressed,” she said.

“Af­ter five months’ of to­tal deaf­ness, a cochlear im­plant in my right ear was suc­cess­fully ac­ti­vated. I was over­whelmed by this mir­a­cle and so grate­ful to my Heav­enly Fa­ther.”

“Not only could I hear, but was in­tro­duced to sounds I never knew ex­isted: birds chirp­ing, a clock tick­ing, soft rain fall­ing and many more,” she said.

Nel said chil­dren who re­ceived a cochlear im­plant be­fore the age of two and adults who lost their hear­ing at some stage showed the best re­sults.

Chil­dren who were born deaf, but with their hear­ing nerves in­tact, had to re­ceive im­plants be­fore the age of five or the brain could no longer learn how to hear, Nel said. For more in­for­ma­tion, viswww.joy­of­hear­ing.org it

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