Dis­cov­er­ing a mean­ing­ful world of sound

An­chored aid helps 5 kids to hear

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - KOWTHAR SOLOMONS

SEVEN- YEAR- OLD Olono Sa­jini spent most of his young life un­able to hear a thing. But now, thanks to a bone-an­chored hear­ing aid pro­vided by the Red Cross Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal, he is look­ing for­ward to a new year in which he will have a whole new world to ex­plore.

Olono was among five chil­dren who re­ceived an an­chored hear­ing aid re­cently.

They were suf­fer­ing var­i­ous con­di­tions that re­sulted in a par­tial loss of hear­ing, rang­ing from be­ing born with­out ear canals, chronic ear in­fec­tions or, in Olono’s case, a be­nign growth that eroded the bones in his ear that con­duct sound.

The hear­ing aid, at­tached to his head via a small screw or a head­band, has given Olono back the hear­ing in his right ear.

He said that what it’s meant was a fa­mil­iar but en­tirely dif­fer­ent world.

“I can hear when my mom talks to me, and ev­ery­thing seems new with sound, even if I’ve seen it a hun­dred times. I can watch TV now and love to watch films and car­toons af­ter school.”

His mother, Nancy Sa­jini, said she was relieved her son would be able to go to school like any other child in the new year.

“The hear­ing aid has given me a whole new re­la­tion­ship with my son, one where we can talk to­gether and un­der­stand each other much bet­ter. I’m so glad that he will be able to have a nor­mal life.”

Red Cross spe­cial­ist Dr Estie Meyer said the growth in Olono’s ears nearly made its way into his brain, which could have led to his death.

“He grew up in the East­ern Cape and didn’t have any proper med­i­cal care. His con­di­tion led to the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of his hear­ing, and could have caused menin­gi­tis or a brain ab­scess if it had been treated any later.”

Olono would un­dergo fur­ther surgery to cor­rect the hear­ing in his left ear, and if he was lucky, might be able to get a nor­mal hear­ing aid.

“When he gets older we may do away with the strap around his head and just mount the hear­ing aid to his skull with a small screw.”

The four other chil­dren have also been re­cov­er­ing well. A six-year-old girl born with­out ear canals could not hear her mother’s voice, and had strug­gled to speak prop­erly.

Meyer said this was due to her par­tial deaf­ness – the lit­tle girl was able hear only 50 per­cent of words prop­erly, re­sult­ing in her mis­pro­nounc­ing or skip­ping some let­ters.

“It will take time, but now that she can hear she is well on her way to re­cov­ery. Th­ese chil­dren can live nor­mal lives now.

“They can lis­ten to mu­sic and do things we just take for granted.”

Lit­tle Olono has a long road ahead of him be­fore he will be able to hear com­pletely – if ever. But he has taken his first few steps into a new world filled with sound, and he’s lov­ing ev­ery minute of it.

kowthar.solomons@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: LEON LESTRADE

NEW WORLD: Life has changed com­pletely for Nancy Sa­jini and her seven-year-old son Olono since the lit­tle boy was given an an­chored hear­ing aid six weeks ago. Olono has just fin­ished grade R and will be able to go to a nor­mal school next year.

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