Watching his son struggle with partial hearing loss for months motivated former Australian cricketer Brett Lee to become an ambassador for those suffering from hearing ailments, which is why he was in the city on Wednesday to make people aware about timely diagnoses of hearing loss.
Talking to HT, Lee recounts the days when his son had hearing loss.
“My 10-year-old son, Preston, had a fall when he was five. He had a head injury and lost the sense of hearing in his right ear,” said Lee.
“He would sit in the class, facing his left ear towards the teacher because the hearing in his right ear had decreased. You can imagine my condition being a concerned parent. I was worried how he was going to live a normal life with only one working ear. I did a lot of research on what kind of treatment would work for him and how children deal with hearing loss,” he added.
Preston was lucky as his hearing recovered in a few months. “Luckily for him, as his nerves were compressed, his hearing recovered naturally in 8-10 months. No surgery was required,” said Brett Lee.
The trauma motivated the former cricketer to start a new innings as the Cochlear’s Global Hearing Ambassador. He is now actively involved in the ‘Sounds of Cricket’ campaign, which aims to create awareness about hearing loss.
“I want to make parents aware. Parents should be more alert and get the screening tests done of their children. Early intervention is the key,” said Brett Lee.
When asked, whether like cricketer Yuvraj Singh, he is also planning to start an NGO, he said, “Doing all these campaigns, reaching out to media and spreading awareness on social media is my way of making people aware. Kids don’t want to listen to teachers, but they listen to a sportsperson.”
He ended up saying, “Nobody wants to live in silence. Everyone wants to be socially active, to laugh on jokes. Every child with hearing impairment should get the implant done to get their hearing, confidence and smile back.”
“Many parents come to us when their child is seven-eight years old, which is quite late. Beyond seven years, we have to tell parents about the realistic expectations because the ear implant works best when a child is younger. The younger the child, the better the outcomes,” said Dr Naresh Panda, head, ENT unit, PGIMER.
The cost of implant varies from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.
“That is where the government should get on board and help. How can you put a price on someone’s hearing? You can’t. If it was me, I would have given every single cent in order to be able to hear,” said Brett Lee.