KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital made history when the first-ever cochlear implant surgery was successfully carried out on Tuesday, December 19, 2017.
“This is the first surgery to be carried out by a private hospital in Perak,” announced Dr Luis Chen Shian Lian during a press conference on Thursday, January 18.
The team was led by Dr Philip Rajan, a Consultant ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon and a trained Otologist (specialising in managing hearing and ear-related diseases).
“Prior to this, we could not perform the surgery, as there were several conditions to be fulfilled in order to perform such a feat. First, we needed a surgeon who knew how to perform the procedure. Next, we required the patients to adhere to certain criteria which included being able to afford the exorbitant cost of the surgery. The final condition was to have an audiologist. Without these, cochlear implant surgeries could not be carried out,” said Luis.
According to him, patients had to travel to Penang or Kuala Lumpur if they wished to undergo the surgery at private hospitals. The travelling does not end after the surgery is over, as there are consequential check-ups and speech therapy sessions.
Luis added that speech therapy sessions are important, especially for young children.
“The critical age for speech and language development is when a child is three years old. We’ve prepared a little demonstration to prove the success of the surgery. Our first patient, Eric Leong who is three years old will hear his first sound today,” he declared.
Eric arrived together with his mother, grandmother, and elder sister soon after the press conference. He had undergone bilateral (both ears) cochlear implantation last year.
He sat adjacent to the audiologist, Sylvia Lee Wai Hun. He was occupied by toys laid out on the table, busy playing with his sister when he turned his head suddenly. It was his initial response to the sounds he had heard. Eric then attempted to take off the hearing aid as the sound was getting too loud for him.
“His reactions meant that he’s able to hear sounds now. He may feel slightly uncomfortable because these sounds are still new to him,” Sylvia explained.
Eric’s mother was pleased that her child could hear.
“We were devastated when we found out that he could not hear. He didn’t respond when we called his name. We knew something was wrong. Now, I’m very happy,” Eric’s mother commented.
“We hope he’s able to enjoy his childhood like any other boys now that he can hear. We want him to grow up like a normal boy,” she added.
This fantastic achievement, hopefully, will benefit Ipohites henceforth.