On what was a festive mid-April morning at the King Abdul Aziz Museum Complex, some 30 children were the special guests at the opening ceremony for the the 4th Cochlear Implant Program, an event hosted by the Prince Sultan Research Chair of Hearing Disabilities and Implantable Devices (RCHD) and the Saudi Otorlaryngology Society.
What these children have in common is that they all were once profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. Thanks to King Saud University doctors, however, these children and hundreds of others have since received surgically implanted electronic devices, which provide them with a sense of sound.
Resplendently dressed and enjoying the attention being showered upon them, the children were highly pleased when RCHD Supervisor Dr. Abdulrahman Hagr called them to the stage and presented each of them with a gift.
As delighted as each child by the gift, their response to Dr. Hagr’s call received with even greater appreciation by the RCHD supervisor and his surgical staff whose work gave or helped restore their hearing through cochlear implant surgery at King Abdulaziz University Hospital (KAUH), one of King Saud University’s major medical centers.
One could describe this day’s special guests as shining examples of the RCHD cochlear program’s success. In 2007, nearly 30 years since Australian Dr. Graeme Clark implanted the first cochlear device, the RCHD surgical staff, led by Dr. Hagr, conducted 30 cochlear implants. Through 2011, the cochlear surgeries increased to 136 and 100 were scheduled for 2012.
Cochlear implants are not exclusively reserved for children, but identifying and solving childrens’ needs from infancy can have a profound impact on their long-term quality of life. Most of the children receiving a cochlear were born with hearing disabilities, gradually experienced hearing loss or lost their hearing because of meningitis or because of an accident in which the cochlea is severely injured.
Dr. Hagr’s staff includes four other lead surgeons including Drs. Abdulrahman Al Sanosi, Hamad Al-Muhaimeed, Fatma H. Al Anazy and Mohammad Attallah, along with assistant suregons Drs. Hassan Al-Shehri and Rabeeh Al-Joufi. But based on the program’s long-range plans, the staff is virtually certain to expand.
The Royal Family has agreed to fund the King Abdullah Center for Implanted Devices. The Center, to be positioned near KAUH, will be the largest in the Middle East.
RCHD and the University of Medicine in Hanover, Germany, have established a working arrangement that can be expanded upon completion of the King Abdullah Center. The KSU facility already has some academic ties in Canada.