Youngest baby in Rajasthan gets cochlear implants in both ears

International Day of Persons with Disabilities December 3

P Srinivasan I [email protected]

Baby Vedika Vyas, (383 days old) is the youngest baby in Rajasthan to be fitted with cochlear implants in both ears on November 5 this year. Generally, two cochlear implants fitted in both ears in one go is rare in India especially in Rajasthan due to its cost. So far, in the last 10 years, there were only five cases in which cochlear implant were fitted in both ears during the first surgery in Sawai Man Singh hospital, Jaipur.

Cochlear Implants have transformed the lives of many children and families across the world and made them independent. On December 3 every year, International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed and this year’s theme is ‘Building Back Better: Towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world by, for and with persons with disabilities’.

Dr Arjun Vyas (31), a dentist with the government hospital in Bikaner said, “My daughter was born deaf and mute and it was noticed at the age of 4.5 months when she did not react to any sound.” Due to the lockdown, doctors could not be consulted, but later, when her hearing test was done, she was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss.

He said after 15 days of diagnosis, the baby got the hearing aids, with which she could hear and react to the sounds. According to Dr Arjun, “We can overcome this problem if every newborn undergoes hearing screening and this facility is available at all the districts.” She was fitted with cochlear implant in both ears at SMS in Jaipur. “I thank Dr Mohnish Grover, Professor ENT, Sawai Man Singh Medical College, Dr Rahul, Dr Sunil Samdhani, Dr Sunita Agarwal and Dr Man Prakash Sharma along with anesthetists Dr Sunita Meena and Dr Usha Bafna,” he added.

He said that if any child is born deaf and mute then should immediately get child fitted with cochlear implant, so that child leads a normal life.

According to the health experts, hearing impairment is the second most common cause of disability in the country, with an estimated 6.3% of the population suffering from the hearing loss. Four in 1000 babies are born deaf and mute, who require cochlear implant. In regard to hearing screening of newborns, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in this year’s budget had announced a new policy for mandatory hearing screening of each newborn in the State. Presently, deafness in children is diagnosed at the age of 3-5 years, but now with government’s policy deafness can be diagnosed with birth. The cochlear implant is done free under CM Relief Fund and the implant can last up to 20 years, but external devices and batteries cost between Rs 10,000 and Rs 40,000 every year as they require servicing or replacement, which the poor families cannot afford. The Rajasthan Government is also making a policy to give accessories of cochlear implant to children, which will be implemented soon. As per the government official, the procurement of instruments and recruitment of manpower for newborn hearing screening is going on and will start soon in all the hospitals in the State. At present, the newborn hearing screening is available at JK Lone Hospital in Jaipur. Apart from SMS hospital, cochlear implant surgery is done at Jaipuria Hospital in Jaipur, SP Medical College in Bikaner, SN Medical College in Jodhpur, RNT Medical College in Udaipur, Government Medical College in Kota and JLN Medical College in Ajmer.

Dr Grover said, “The baby is doing fine after being fitted with cochlear implants and she is the youngest (one year and 18 days) in the State to get these implants in both ears.” He said, “Since 2010, when the cochlear implant was started at SMS Medical College, only five persons have been put cochlear implants in both ears in first surgery like this baby. Most of the children are fitted with cochlear implant in only one ear.” After the surgery, speech therapy is very important for the children for two to four years, he added.

He said that funding for cochlear implant in children was started under Chief Minister Relief Fund from 2011. In these 10 years, more than 600 cochlear implants have been fitted in SMS Hospital.

Dr Vyas had paid Rs 8 lakh for implants in both ears in SMS Hospital, which otherwise in private hospital would have cost him around Rs 13 lakh. Dr Grover said that best results come with implants fitted in both ears during the first surgery called simultaneous bilateral. If the patient prefers to have the second implant done later then it should be done within two years of the first implant.

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