Anas Abdullahi Ahmad, who had contracted meningitis at the age of six, was advised to seek medical counsel in India.

New Delhi: An 8-year-old Nigerian boy who had been suffering from bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss heard his parents’ voice for the first time after doctors in Delhi were able to surgically implant a neuroprosthetic device, a cochlear implant.

The boy, Anas Abdullahi Ahmad, had contracted meningitis at the age of six. He had been hospitalised a local hospital in Nigeria for five years. It was only after he was discharged, that his parents realised that the boy was not responding normally. Further assessment revealed that meningitis had resulted in bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss. Medical opinions were sought from various local hospitals and eventually, the patient and his family were advised to seek medical counsel in India.

He was brought to Fortis Hospital at Shalimar Bagh, where he was treated by a team led Dr. Yogesh Jain and Dr. Anup Sabherwal. In a statement, Fortis said that during these two-years, Anas had been “bullied by the children in his school and was unable to perform daily activities. He couldn’t communicate effectively with his friends, siblings or parents.” After a full assessment by an audiologist and a CT scan along with an MRI, doctors assessed the damage and viability of the cochlear nerve. He was also found to be suffering from sickle cell anemia.

“A multi-disciplinary team consisting of ENT surgeons, audiologists, anesthetists, hematologist, radiologists and pediatricians attended Anas. He was admitted one day prior to the surgery for a blood transfusion. The surgery consisted of a right ear cochlear implant under general anesthesia. One part of the implant was inserted into the cochlea to stimulate the hearing nerve and the other part was external placed and activated after the surgical wound healed. These two parts related to a magnet. After switching on the implant, the hearing nerve was stimulated, and Anas was able to hear. This allowed him to modulate his voice and speak,” the hospital said.

Dr. Anup Sabherwal of Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh said, “Anas responded well to the treatment and he can avail further care from the doctors in his country. He has reported an immediate improvement in his ability to hear and respond. The family has hope that he will be able to live a normal life again and will be able to go back to school. Cochlear implants take the place of the sensory cells and directly stimulate the hearing nerve. They can improve clarity, even when hearing aids provide limited benefit. It is better to consider a cochlear implant sooner than later, so the amount of time that the hearing nerve has gone without good stimulation is shortened.”

Mr. Mahipal Singh Bhanot, Facility Director, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh added, “This is another example of how medical tourism is gaining traction in India. Many international patients benefit with the quality and affordability of treatments in India. At Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh, we are equipped with all the necessary personnel and equipment to conduct the rarest of surgeries. We are extremely happy that Anas has recovered and that he will be able to live a normal life.”

The boy’s mother said, “It was really frightening when Anas could not or was not able to hear us. We thought his life, at the mere age of six, had come to a complete standstill. As parents we did not know how to keep his hopes alive, how to help him get better or keep him motivated. However, we had to try. When we learnt that the doctors in India would be able to perform the cochlear implant, we didn’t hesitate. Now that he has recovered and is able to communicate with us effectively, we couldn’t be happier.”

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