2-year old undergoes successful cochlear implant surgery at Tygerberg Hospital
The parents of two-year-old Sage Cloete, who has undergone a successful cochlear implant surgery at Tygerberg Hospital, are appreciative of the support provided by the hospital and the Cochlear Implant Audiology team. A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that can provide sound to people who have significant hearing loss.
Sage was born with bilateral profound hearing loss which was diagnosed at the age of 18-months at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. She was fitted with hearing aids in January which were of little help due to the severity of her hearing loss. She was then referred to the Cochlear Implant Unit at Tygerberg Hospital where she was found to be a good candidate for implantation. The timing was unfortunate in that Sage’s family and medical team had to navigate lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic. Being a young child there is no time to waste to maximise sound input for brain development and the opportunity to develop spoken language.
Sage underwent her surgery on 23 June, and she was activated on 9 July. Activation is when the internal component of the cochlear implant system is connected to the external sound processor worn behind the ear by means of audiological programming. Currently, she is in the mapping/ programming stage, which includes weekly mapping sessions for about four weeks. In addition, she continues to receive weekly online therapy sessions via zoom with her speech-language therapist at the Carel du Toit Centre (CHAT), where she is learning spoken language using hearing technology and natural learning experiences.
“We were admitted to Tygerberg hospital on 22 June for an operation that will change my two-year-old daughter's life forever. Although it was in the middle of the COVID-19 chaos, we stepped foot in the much-feared place any human being would rather not be. We had a 2½ day stay at the facility and although the monster called Corona was hanging around, we were not for one moment fearful. The staff were so kind and caring, from doctors to cleaning staff. We felt so welcome. We had the best audiologist team,” says Sage’s mother Tonia Cloete.
“If you may ask if we were scared, I'll rather say I was a bag full of emotions as any parent can be, before your child is wheeled of to the theatre unit. I was actually more afraid of the anaesthetic than anything else. Thank you Tygerberg hospital, especially the Audiology Cochlear Implant Unit and ENT [Ear, Nose, and Throat] Department for giving Sage the gift of hearing,” says Tonia.
“It is a delight to watch Sage growing in confidence and in her awareness of new sounds in her environment,” says Jennifer Perold, audiologist and coordinator of the Cochlear Implant Unit at Tygerberg Hospital. Due to the hospital’s scaled down operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, only children and people who have suddenly lost their hearing due to meningitis are considered for cochlear implant surgery.