A COCHLEAR IMPLANT for a young boy ...

The story of Dukchung Lama. Uptil July 2018

We have parental permission to publish these details about Dukchung’s loss of hearing and the help that Ear Aid Nepal was able to provide.

Dukchung belongs to a small Tibetan type people group called the Lomi living close to the Tibetan border in North East Nepal. There is also a small community living in Kathmandu.

Fortunately for him we have a close connection through Sandra who is an Austrian Audiologist/Speech and language therapist who was working at the ear Centre in Pokhara and doing research and a Masters degree looking at the data accumulated from past ear camps, and also people’s attitudes to hearing loss. She has married into this group and knows their remote home district in the mountains.

Dukchung is a 7-year-old boy and he had a fever in August/September 2017, with swelling in front of his ears, most likely due to mumps affecting the salivary glands. He then complained about bilateral hearing loss. It is well known that the mumps virus can cause profound nerve deafness. The family was concerned and sent him to TU Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu (Nov. 2017). The hospital tested him thoroughly and confirmed that he had lost almost all hearing in both ears.

Dukchung Lama is from Namase (Sankuwashaba District, North Eastern part of Nepal). He has 4 siblings (2 brothers, 2 sisters) and his parents are farmers in the mountains. His older brother is studying in Kathmandu.

Here is a picture of him at Sandra’s wedding in Kathmandu. Although he participated in the dancing and celebrations, it was clear that he could not hear the music or people’s voices.

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And here is his pure tone audiogram showing the bilateral hearing loss:

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The Hospital suggested cochlear implants on both ears but the family was not able to pay for the whole treatment. The total cost of an implant (for 1 ear) is 12 Lakh Nepali Rupees (approximately US$ 12,000). The government/hospital will support the family with approximately US$ 4,000 (4 Lakh Nepali Rupees). A local church (Ghangri Church) in Kathmandu is talking about funding them and the family will probably take a loan from friends and family.

The closely knit community pulled together and held a meeting at which they agreed to put a good sum towards his care. However a large loan would still be needed. Interest rates on loans in Nepal can be very high and unaffordable. Sandra asked EAN whether we could help.
After extensive enquiries and checking that the parents (who are relatively uneducated village folk) and the community would ensure that he had good long term care, and that they fully understood the implications of cochlear implantation, it was agreed that EAN would contribute a sum of £2,000.

Time was also important because delay could affect the ability to fit an implant and a prolonged period of deafness would affect his long term hearing outcome and brain development for hearing and language.

Dukchung underwent full assessment and surgery was initially planned for the end of February. Finance all had to be agreed and provided up front so that implant could be purchased ahead of the operation.

Sandra later reported:

We’re back from the mountains and finally connected to the internet again.

I just quickly wanted to inform you that Dukchung got his CI implanted on May 21st 2018. Everything went well. We haven’t met him yet but probably will soon. He’s still waiting for initial switch on. TU hospital will call them soon. I will send some pictures and update then ;-) His mum came together with us to KTM, they are so thankful to everyone who was helping and supporting.
Greetings from KTM,.

Then subsequently we heard:

He came today and we did some therapy. He’s doing very well, he’s already handling the CI himself, understands a lot and is speaking way more than before. At the moment he’s living with his brother who takes care of him but schooling is a bit tricky. We’re discussing about putting him in a Hostel in Kathmandu and hope we won’t have any issues as he’s having a CI. There are several options and we’re trying to find the best solution.

Here are recent photos, taken shortly after CI switch on - we will keep a close eye on his progress and update the news as we do so.

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