Six-month-old boy becomes the youngest in country to get cochlear implant
Rameshwar, Shivtej’s paternal uncle said it was the grandmother who first noticed it and informed the couple. “Both my brother Nyaneshwar and Supriya have had hearing loss since birth. They could not figure out that Shivtej was not responding to sounds like a mixer grinder. We immediately called the anganwadi and the local district hospital, who directed us to Mumbai,” said Rameshwar
Mumbai: A six-month-old boy from Tuljapur became the youngest child in the country to undergo cochlear implant surgery on August 22 at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH), Andheri.
Born to hearing and speech-impaired parents from rural Maharashtra, the father, who is a farmer, decided to get their firstborn, Shivtej Narvadede, a cochlear implant soon after he found that he too suffered from hearing impairment, and the implant could help him lead a better life.
Rameshwar, Shivtej’s paternal uncle said it was the grandmother who first noticed it and informed the couple. “Both my brother Nyaneshwar and Supriya have had hearing loss since birth. They could not figure out that Shivtej was not responding to sounds like a mixer grinder. We immediately called the anganwadi and the local district hospital, who directed us to Mumbai,” said Rameshwar.
A cochlear implant is a small electronic device generally advised to people with severe or irreversible hearing loss.
Dr Sanjiv Badhwar, ENT surgeon who operated on Shivtej, said, “We hold screening camps in rural areas, and that’s how the local district hospital connected them to us. These camps aim to detect hearing impairment early in children, and this child was luckily detected very early to become one of the youngest children in Asia to get operated for a cochlear implant.”
The unilateral cochlear implant surgery was free of cost under the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) scheme. “He is doing good. Once the wound heals (which is a month after he is operated on), we will do the switch-on process where the implant is activated by fitting an external speech processor,” said Badhwar.
According to ENT doctors, the implant helps the person with hearing loss to hear and understand more speech than was possible with a hearing aid. It has tiny receptors implanted in the skin near the ears to make it possible for the patients to hear. These implants cost around ₹5-6 lakh.
Dr Samir Bhargava, ENT specialist, PD Hinduja Hospital-Mahim and National ENT President (Association of Otolaryngologists of India) said that all over the world, in developed countries, newborn hearing screening is mandatory. “Therefore, on day one or two of birth, newborns are detected with moderate to severe or profound hearing loss. The idea is to detect early, find the cause within three months, and then go for interventions,” said Bhargava.
Dr Bhargava said in Australia, the child is operated on as early as four months, and in the US, the age is decreasing below one year. “Unfortunately, in India, we do not have a newborn hearing screening programme,” he said adding that the earlier the child gets operated the more normal will be the child’s speech development.
Till the year 2000, the detection of hearing loss in a child was around 9 to 12 months of age,
Dr Amol Patil, ENT specialist, Nanavati Hospital-Vile Parle said. “A study has shown that early cochlear implantation shows significant improvement in hearing. We can expect a new recommendation that says cochlear implants can be done in a six-month-old and above child,” he said.