March 2019 Pretoria East Rekord

A two-year-old girl has been afforded the opportunity to hear sound for the first time since birth.

Chogtaa Dumeh from northern Ghana was born with a rare condition, Waardenburg syndrome type two, which was also the cause of profound hearing loss in both her ears. Waardenburg syndrome is also characterised by varying degrees of depigmentation of the eyes.

She underwent a cochlear operation at the Zuid-Afrikaans Hospital in Muckleneuk last month and the implanted device was switched on a few weeks later, allowing the toddler to hear sound for the first time.

The operation was done in South Africa, because it was not available in her country. Her mother, Florence Ziniel, expressed her gratitude to all who contributed to the process. “It has been overwhelming and I can see that my child has the brightest future there is and nothing will stop her,” said Ziniel. “Not even financially, because the people out there are making sure she gets everything. I am grateful to everyone and to South Africans, especially those following our story and contributing to her journey, for rekindling the hope we lost. God bless you all,” she said.

Ziniel said when she gave birth to Chogtaa she could not help to think how unfortunate she has been in life. “Upon all my difficulties God added to my burden by giving me a child who needed so much money to become someone in future,” she said. I was helpless and constantly in pain, because I did not know how to help my child. One day, I heard a little voice which said I should bury my fears and go public and I will get the needed help. I am very happy that I obeyed the voice. There were so many times I wanted to give up,” she said. She said she was very positive about a future in South Africa that would provide her little girl with the best opportunities concerning her circumstances.

Chogtaa Dumeh     Florence ZinielChogtaa Dumeh and her mother Florence Ziniel

The manager of the Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss, Erika Basson said an intensive rehabilitation process of a minimum of six to nine months would follow, consisting of speech and language therapy as well as regular programming of the device as her brain adapts to sound.The operation was made possible by the foundation who raised funds – and received donations from individual donors as well as Studex South Africa, community chest of the Western Cape and Isa Gold. Basson said they were also aiming to start raising funds for Chogtaa’s second implant – the goal was to receive the second implant early in 2020.

A bursary placement has been secured for Chogtaa at a mainstream school in Pretoria, the Eduplex, which caters for deaf children with assistive devices. Chogtaa will receive quality mainstream education including the required speech and language therapy, audiology management, as well as parent guidance for her mother as long as she attended this school.The promised to assist Chogtaa with future repairs on her cochlear implant device when needed, including the programming of her device on a regular basis.

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