Vital op for deaf girl put off

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IOL ST Ear Girl 155 THE STAR Cash problems have stalled an operation that would improve Amyoli Gina Ngewu's hearing. Photo: Boxer Ngwenya

Pretoria - Two-year-old Gina Ngewu was due to undergo a life-changing operation on Thursday, but because of a lack of funds, the little girl might live in her soundless world for ever.

Gina, of Atteridgeville, was diagnosed with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD) when she was a few months old and now uses a hearing aid and sign language to communicate.

Her audiologist, Nicolize Cass, of the Pretoria Cochlear Unit based at the University of Pretoria, said without a cochlear implant, the little girl would never be able to hear. She said because of the severity of her condition, Gina received only minimal sound from her hearing aid. A cochlear implant would be her only hope of hearing.

Cass said at least 10 percent of all deaf people had ANSD. She said the cochlear implant would electrically stimulate Gina’s hearing nerves. The implant has an internal portion that is surgically placed under the skin and an external portion that sits behind the ear.

“Even if we do not do the operation now, the condition will not get worse, but it will delay her speech and language skills.”

Gina lip reads and uses sign language and minimal verbal communication. The cochlear implant costs about R350 000 and the family’s medical aid has agreed to pay R270 000. Now, Gina’s mother, Samkelo, 23, still needs to raise the outstanding R80 000. Gina is her first child.

The operation was supposed to be done at the Zuid Afrikaans Hospital on Thursday but has been postponed until the funds become available.

To raise the funds, Samkelo and the Hear Always Foundation Trust have opened a trust account and are asking the public for donations.

Trust chairwoman Janet van Graan said: “Time is running out for the little girl. If her brain is not stimulated by sound as early as possible she might have problems communicating in the future.

Samkelo said: “I realised that there was a problem when she did not respond to rattling toys or when she slept even if there was loud noise.

“She also did not react when her name was called. Otherwise she was a normal child.”

She took the child for tests and it was discovered she had ANSD. “I decided to leave school and take care of her full time, because I did not want her to be treated differently from other children.

“Three pre-schools have told me they cannot take care of her because of her condition,” she said.

Donations can be deposited in the following account: Hear Always Foundation Trust, Standard Bank, Trust account number: 411351605. Branch code: 012645, swift code: SBZAZAJJ. Reference: Gina Ngewu.

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Pretoria News

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