Aloshay Arendse lost her hearing at six years old, but was gifted the ability to hear again after doctors at Life Kingsbury Hospital implanted a cochlear device – for free.
The eight-year-old girl from Kraaifontein is the fifth patient in SA to receive the cochlear implant CI532 Slim Modiolar Electrode – the world’s thinnest full-length perimodiolar electrode.
The implant is a very soft, flexible atraumatic electrode, designed to protect and preserve the delicate structures of the cochlear.
Aloshay is no stranger to hospitals. She received a liver transplant when she was just one year old.
This was followed by bone marrow cancer, for which she was heavily medicated and left her hospitalised for 11 months.
She also had 28 weeks of chemotherapy.
When she turned six, she was diagnosed with “steeply sloping hearing loss” and got hearing aids for both ears.
Her mother Candice Isaacs says her daughter was born with normal hearing, but lost it during medical and surgical interventions.
“It was a tough time for all of us, especially having to watch her transition her way from one challenge to the next,” says Candice.
“But we had to make difficult decisions in order to save her life.”
On Tuesday, Aloshay finally got her hearing back after undergoing a two-hour procedure which didn’t cost her parents a cent.
Generous partners, including Bidvest Hear for Life Trust, which donated the cochlear implant; ear, nose and throat surgeon Dr Gary Kroukamp; anaesthetist Dr Nick Meyersfeld; Life Kingsbury Hospital; Red Cross Children’s War Memorial Hospital and Tygerberg Hospital collaborated to give Aloshay her hearing back.
Kroukamp, of Life Kingsbury Hospital, explains the surgery: “The two-hour procedure entails surgically inserting the cochlear implant under the skin behind the ear and an electrode array is inserted into the cochlear, stimulating the nerve endings used for hearing directly.
“The primary benefits of performing this life-changing surgery is spoken language acquisition, improved speech intelligibility, reading comprehension and high frequency hearing which is missed with hearing aids.
“Furthermore, this will drastically improve her quality of life.”
Aloshay is currently in Grade 2 at Carel du Toit School and will soon enjoy her hearing ability.
The implant, which was tested and fully functional, will be switched on in three weeks’ time once the swelling has gone down and Aloshay has fully recovered from the surgery.