At Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, 16 deaf Palestinian children underwent cochlear implant surgery. Following these procedures, the children could hear for the first time in their lives.
Six of the children were operated on last month, one after the other, in an intensive, marathon-style implant operation.
The cochlear implant surgery is quite common nowadays in the western world, but it is not appropriately accessible for struggling populations in developing regions.
As part of the Peres Center for Peace program, for Palestinian children residing in the West Bank and in Gaza, 16 deaf children underwent this surgery over the last year, all of which proved successful.
"The operations posed quite a logistical challenge," said Dr. Michal Kaufmann, the performing surgeon, "many authorizations were required from the Defense Ministry, some of the children arrived without a medical record and required extensive tests at Hadassah, alongside the emotional and psychological treatment."
The cochlear implant is an implanted hearing device, which is surgically inserted into the inner ear, bypassing the damaged organ and directly stimulating the hearing nerve. It was intended for children who were born deaf or adults who lost their hearing during their lives, and it potentially has the ability to return one's hearing.
The surgical procedure is performed under general anesthesia and is only the first phase of the procedure. About a month after the procedure, the first fitting with the external part takes place. This phase is done by a speech therapist and is followed by a months-long rehabilitation process. The entire procedure requires the collaboration of otolaryngologists, ear surgeons, and speech therapists specialized in the field of implants.
"This is an amazing project that gives these children the opportunity to step out of their world of silence and live their lives normally and fully," said Dr. Kaufmann.
"These children couldn't speak prior to the surgery, they were bereft of any supporting environment, uncommunicative. The surgery opened up their world, the ability to communicate and spread their wings... We are happy to have been able to contribute to such a dramatic change in their lives," she continued.