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3-year-old girl is first to get cochlear implant at Cooper

Dr Samir Bhargava, an ENT surgeon at civic-run Cooper Hospital, helped a family from MP find donors for their daughter’s cochlear implant surgery, which took place on April 29

In one month from now, three-year-old Astha Tiwari will be able to hear for the first time in her life. She underwent a cochlear implant at Cooper Hospital on April 29.

Astha Tiwari was diagnosed with hearing loss since she was a year old
Astha Tiwari was diagnosed with hearing loss since she was a year old

The civic-run hospital in Andheri became the first peripheral hospital in the city to conduct a cochlear implant surgery on the young girl, and plans are in the offing of developing its own audiology department to detect hearing loss in infants.

With the incidence rate of 1 in 500 infants suffering from hearing loss at the neonatal stage due to complications, this new move by the hospital will be beneficial to several patients, especially those who cannot afford the expensive treatment.

Speaking to mid-day, Dr Samir Bhargava, ENT surgeon at the hospital, said, “Private hospitals across the city have been conducting cochlear implant procedures for the last decade. The main problem is that the implants are very expensive; the cheapest ones cost around R5,35,000 and superior models up to R9 lakh.”

“The price of these implants has remained the same over the years, due to which it took this long to introduce cochlear implant surgeries in BMC hospitals,” added Dr Bhargava. He further said that no Indian company manufactures the implants, and that they have to rely on imported ones.

The toddler, who hails from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, suffered from hearing loss since birth. Though she was diagnosed with the impairment earlier, her family was unable to afford the treatment. While they consulted the doctor earlier, they returned to the city only after they found private donors to fund the medical expenses.

Sarvesh Tiwari, father of the patient, who works as a teacher in Gwalior, said, “We found out that she was unable to hear when she was just a year old. Since this surgery isn’t done in Gwalior, a friend referred me to Dr Bhargava, who helped us find donors for the surgery, as I was desperate to get my daughter treated.”

What is a cochlear implant?
It is a small electronic device that provides a sense of sound to people who are hearing-impaired or those suffering from hearing loss. The implant has two portions — an exterior one that is placed behind the ear, and a second one that is surgically placed under the ear.

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