A family in Ocean View is desperately trying to raise funds for their 2-year-old son, who was diagnosed with a rare hearing impairment that requires urgent surgery.
In January, Qa-eed Solomon was diagnosed with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD) – a type of hearing loss where sound is not transmitted properly from the cochlea (inner ear) to the hearing nerve or from the hearing nerve to the brain.
According to his mother, Saadiqa Solomon, an assistant teacher at Fish Hoek Pre-Primary School, Qa-eed reached all his developmental milestones ahead of time except for language.
“He is such a friendly, outgoing child, and enjoys socialising with friends, with physical and visual cues,” Ms Solomon said.
It was only when Qa-eed started preschool in November last year that they learned he had a hearing impairment.
“He started preschool at Fish Hoek Pre-Primary shortly before his second birthday in October last year. A month later, his class teacher confirmed my suspicion about his language delay and advised me and my husband, Sa’eed, to take him for a hearing test,” Ms Solomon said.
A subsequent series of tests confirmed the ANSD diagnosis.
Qa-eed then did a six-month hearing aid trial, but Ms Solomon said it did not benefit him. She and her husband then did some research of their own and came across the cochlear implant.
Qa-eed qualified as a public-sector patient and underwent a sponsored cochlear implant for his right ear through the Stellenbosch Cochlear Implant Unit. He had the procedure on Monday May 23 and the device was activated on Friday
Ms Solomon said their audiologist at the Cochlear Implant Unit, Linda Muller, suggested that their son have the left ear implanted as soon as possible but the procedure alone would cost R250 000.
“A child’s brain needs information early in life, before the age of 3 or 4, in order to develop on both sides,” Ms Muller told the Echo. “The second implant should be performed as soon as possible so that the brain can develop binaural hearing (hearing with both ears.) Without stimulation from the other ear, the brain develops hearing only one side.”
She said Qa-eed would be unable to receive a second sponsored cochlear implant.
“Every year, our programme implants many children through state support. Many of them would like the state to cover a second implant, but, unfortunately, we only receive a limited number of implants per year, for example, ten. Due to this, we give priority to those who can receive at least one,” Ms Muller said.
Ms Solomon and her husband both hold jobs, but their salaries just about cover their expenses.
“Both of our salaries go towards weekly speech and occupational therapy, and Qa-eed has follow-up appointments at both Red Cross Children’s Hospital, for the non-implanted ear, and Tygerberg Hospital for the implanted ear,” she said.
Ms Solomon said Qa-eed also needed to attend the Carel Du Toit Centre school for the hearing impaired but the transport costs to get him to the school in the northern suburbs are beyond the family’s means.
So far the family have raised R15 000 from a series of fund-raisers but they still have a long way to go.
“We still have a very long and daunting road ahead, but we would like to appeal to the public for any donations. Please help us in giving our little boy the gift of sound. Every cent donated is a cent closer to our target,” Ms Solomon said.
If you would like to assist, Saadiqah Solomon can be reached at 068 200 4050.