Toddler in Sabah to get cochlear implants through Medical Fund


Adhwa with his parents at the hospital in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

IT WAS a day of joy for Nurul Atiqah Hassan and Muhammad Hazim Shah when their son, Adhwa Haziq, was born.

Later, the couple in Labuan found out that their son had profound hearing loss in both ears.

Nurul Atiqah said she and her husband became concerned when they noticed Adhwa was unresponsive to ear-splitting sounds.

“When Adhwa was just a year old, he had an encounter with his grandfather’s noisy compressor.

“Despite the deafening sound, Adhwa remained unfazed, oblivious to the commotion around him. This was totally different from other babies who would usually cry when exposed to loud noises,” she said.

Atiqah, 24, herself suffers from hearing loss in one ear.

So she refused to let her child endure the condition.

“I do not want my son to suffer the same condition, or worse than mine,” she said with tears brimming in her eyes.

“Adhwa has been living in a world of quiet isolation.

“While he is friendly, he relies on touch rather than verbal communication, which makes it difficult for him to interact with other children.

“He cannot hear us calling his name, or any other sound.

“We have to hold his hand to get his attention,” she added.

Atiqah decided to take Adhwa to Gleneagles Hospital Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, for hearing tests after futile consultations at previous hospitals.

The test results confirmed her worst fears; Adhwa has profound hearing loss in both ears.

The doctor advised Atiqah that Adhwa should proceed with a bilateral cochlear implant surgery as soon as possible before he turned three this year.

This would allow the toddler a better chance at regaining auditory and speech ability, ultimately enabling him to join mainstream study like others, said the doctor.

A cochlear implant is a complex electronic device that restores hearing by converting sound waves into electrical signals transmitted to the brain.

It can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.

However, the cost of cochlear implants can be prohibitive for many, including Adhwa’s family.

The device itself costs around RM75,000 for each ear and the cost of surgery and follow-up appointments add up.

For Adhwa’s family, the required sum was well out of reach for the boy’s father Muhammad Hazim Shah, an assistant operator, who earns about RM3,500 monthly and is the family’s sole breadwinner.

Faced with this insurmountable challenge, the couple started frantically searching for funding to purchase the cochlear implants.

“The cost is very high. We both burst into tears at hearing the news. We have had countless mental breakdowns just trying to do our best for our child.

“We desperately want our son to be able to undergo this surgery so that he can enjoy his childhood and go to school like normal children,” said Atiqah.

When Star Foundation learnt about the family’s plight, it stepped forward to offer help.

Under its Medical Fund programme with public donations, the foundation is assisting Adhwa’s family to purchase the much-needed cochlear implant devices for both ears, costing RM105,000. The surgery is scheduled for mid-April.

The family is overwhelmed with gratitude. Atiqah said they felt blessed to have found such compassionate support during their time of need.

“It’s like a dream come true. We had lost all hope but the foundation’s generosity has given Adhwa a new lease on life.

“We are thankful for Star Foundation’s help and really appreciate the public’s kindness.

“We had longed for our child to hear the sound of laughter and music clearly. That will soon become a reality,” she added.

This support is made possible through generous public donations to the Star Foundation’s Medical Fund, allowing Adhwa, who is the next eligible patient, to undergo this life-changing surgery.

The Medical Fund Programme was started by Star Foundation in 2015 to help underprivileged individuals suffering from chronic illnesses, by sponsoring one-off medical treatment.

Star Foundation is the charitable arm of Star Media Group and it aims to support impactful initiatives to help a diverse group of beneficiaries.For details, visit starfoundation.com.my and for enquiries, email starfoundation@thestar.com.my

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