Gaza- “As if they were born again,” a description agreed upon by families with hearing disabilities who underwent cochlear implants, which restored their sense of hearing, at the hands of Qatari doctors and specialists in Gaza.
Zina Al-Salifiti is a child of no more than six years old. She is one of them. She is a “success story” and a model for her rapid response to cochlear implants, her response to the treatment protocol, and the recovery of her sense of hearing.
Zina’s mother told Al Jazeera Net, “Our lives were completely different after Zina’s treatment. She was born again, and we, as a family, have a soul back.”
Pain and hope
Zina, a baby in the first year of her life, was exposed to a high fever, as a result of which she lost her hearing, and her mother says, “She was in the beginning of her learning to speak, she called us Mama.. Papa, and suddenly she stopped speaking completely, and we initially thought that (baby pets), but we discovered through medical tests that she had been infected. with a hearing impairment.
By the time she was two years old, Zeina underwent a cochlear implant in the first batch of operations performed by Qatari doctors at HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani Hospital for Rehabilitation and Prosthetics, funded by the Qatar Fund for Development, in Gaza.
Zina’s mother and her daughter went through a long journey from the treatment protocol that followed the transplant, and she says, “After the success of the transplant process, there are several stages, starting with training in distinguishing sounds, letters, and then words and sentence construction.”
Because this trip requires a lot of time and effort, Zina’s parents decided to temporarily stop having children, and devote themselves entirely to treating their daughter and taking care of the eldest “Sama” until this trip was crowned with success, and they finally gave birth to their third daughter, Malak.
Zina’s family is proud to present it as a success story to the hospital, which recently announced the resumption of cochlear implants for 50 deaf children in Gaza, after a two-year hiatus due to the Corona pandemic.
merging with life
Zina’s quick response to treatment and rehabilitation sessions contributed to her enrolling in kindergarten, and her parents decided that she should study a second preparatory year before enrolling in basic education in the school, in order to be more powerful and able to absorb and memorize.
The 6-year-old girl, Aida Al-Bayouk, undergoes rehabilitation sessions periodically, after she underwent a cochlear implant, which contributed to her recovering the sense of hearing that she had lost since birth.
Aida’s father, Hisham Al-Bayouk – to Al-Jazeera Net – expressed his overwhelming happiness with his daughter’s ability to deal with her peers, and academic absorption in the preparatory year in kindergarten, and her ability to memorize a wall of the Holy Qur’an.
Aida’s younger brother, Abdul Rahman (two years old), was among the last 50 cases that underwent a cochlear implant, and Hisham hopes that his child Abdul Rahman will respond to treatment and rehabilitation sessions as quickly as his sister Aida.
After living nearly 50 years of age deaf, Khaled Miqdad, 54, was able to rely entirely on himself in dealing with his family and society.
Khaled told Al Jazeera Net, “Life has a different form after hearing… I no longer struggle to communicate with others.”
Khaled – according to his wife’s description – was an introvert, preferring to stay alone and not mix with people, but now he is practicing his normal life, undertaking his duties and responsibilities, and following up on his six children.
Since their marriage of 30 years, Khaled and his wife communicate with “lip language” and some signs agree between them, and this patient wife says, “I used to bear the bulk of the burdens and responsibilities for the house and children (2 boys and 4 girls), but since the cochlear implantation, Khaled has recovered and performs many tasks. which he had previously been unable to do.
Al Jazeera Net met Dr. Khaled Abdel Hadi, Head of Hearing and Balance Department at Hamad Medical Corporation in Qatar and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. He said, “The Cochlear Implant Program has conducted 230 cochlear implants since its launch in 2017 at the Hospital of His Highness the Father Amir Hamad bin Khalifa in Gaza, and we have achieved most of them with success. outstanding.”
This success has allowed the integration of 126 children, after they underwent cochlear implants, into kindergartens and regular schools, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education in Gaza and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), according to Abdel Hadi.
“We were able to achieve the goal of the cochlear implant program in Gaza, which is that the local cadre of surgeons and audiologists and speech specialists are now able to carry out operations, follow-up and self-rehabilitate cases, which achieves sustainable development,” he said.
According to Abdul-Hadi, hearing disability in Gaza is the second most common disability after motor disability, and the presence of such a program alleviates the psychological and social suffering of families, especially since cochlear implants are expensive, in addition to their need for pre- and post-operative rehabilitation.
It is noteworthy that the last batch – which includes 50 cochlear implants for children in Gaza – cost one and a half million dollars, with a donation from the Qatari Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.
Palestinian statistics estimate the number of hearing impairment cases in Gaza at 3652, including 1243 for children under the age of 18.