TEN years ago at the age of 11, Lim Yi Zhen contracted chicken pox and her world changed forever.
“Sounds at school and home became muffled. I struggled to catch complete sentences from my teachers and others,” she recalled.
Her hearing loss became more apparent when she failed to respond to her mother.
A hospital check-up revealed that Yi Zhen had suffered hearing loss in both ears.
“The doctor suspected the chicken pox had affected my auditory nerve cords,” said Yi Zhen.
Eventually, she underwent a life-changing cochlear implantation in her right ear which improved her hearing.
However, due to financial constraints, she still had to use a hearing aid in her left ear.
“The implant brought a ray of hope. I could hear clearly again, even if only through one ear.
“This boosted my confidence and allowed me to serve the community by volunteering with NGOs during my free time,” she said.
However, fate dealt another blow.
Earlier this year, the now 21-year-old Yi Zhen who just started pursuing a psychology degree in Kuala Lumpur, found herself struggling to understand conversations clearly, particularly when others wore masks.
“Despite my cochlear implant, I still lip-read to supplement my understanding of words.
“However, when others wear masks, it became increasingly challenging to understand them.”
She couldn’t shake off her fear that her hearing had worsened. A visit to the doctor confirmed her hearing had deteriorated, with a diagnosis of moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss.
“The news left me shaken,” said Yi Zhen, who also suffers from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
The doctor recommended getting a cochlear implant in her
left ear to restore her binaural hearing or hearing in both ears.
She is scheduled to undergo the surgery at Borneo Medical Centre in early August.
The device itself costs around RM68,000 for one ear. In addition, there will be costs for surgery and follow-up medical appointments.
Yi Zhen comes from a single-parent family and her mother Pan Lim only earns RM1,900 monthly as a factory worker.
Pan and Yi Zhen are appealing for funds for the cochlear implant.
Pan said, “The cost is beyond our means. I hope Yi Zhen can have the surgery so she can concentrate on her studies and pursue her dream of becoming a counsellor.”
Star Foundation’s Medical Fund Programme is helping to raise funds for the cochlear implant.
Those who wish to help can channel donations to the Star Foundation-Medical Fund Public Bank account (31-9984-9230) via bank transfer.
Donations can also be made via cheque, credit or debit card.
Excess funds will be used for the next eligible patient.
To get a tax exemption receipt, donors need to fill in the Medical Fund-Donation Form available on the website.
Star Foundation is the charitable arm of Star Media Group and it aims to support initiatives to help a diverse group of beneficiaries.
The Medical Fund Programme started in 2015 to help underprivileged individuals suffering from chronic illnesses, by sponsoring one-off medical treatment.