Do you hear my cause?

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In conversation: Dr. Neelam Vaid, Brett Lee & Debashree Lokhande

If asking my mind to catalog small things around me is called observing, then my commutes around make sure I get my daily quench.

That one day, it was rush hour and my mind compelled my fingers to speed and zigzag past all the roads. Just then, my eyes meet a man on a scooter making quick sign actions to his pillion rider like in conversation. The response by the lady was even quicker. It was a sight of overwhelm to watch them laugh in glory and crackle along in conversation. On a closer glance, I soon realized they were hearing and speech impaired. For a few seconds, the noise around me seized to exist and I watched their happiness in silence.

That day in time, created a strong memory reason enough to write in context today. Last week, I felt glad to attend a connect program by Cochlear™ India to raise awareness on hearing loss and be enlightened to the staggering statistics of it globally. Cochlear™ is a global company that, for over 30 years has provided Cochlear™ Implant systems to about 2,60,000 recipients. Speaking in action was Bret Lee, their Global Hearing Ambassador who shared his association with this cause through the campaign ‘Sounds Of Cricket’. His words resonated on saying that cricket is a sport that binds 3 billion people and through exactly this language of cricket he wishes to expose more people to implantable hearing technologies.

Did I know that 32 million children under the age of 15 years suffer from disabling hearing loss? Did I know that a hearing aid can be put on a child as early as 6 months old? I sat intrigued listening to these and many other facts shared by speaker Dr. Neelam Vaid MS (ENT), the Associate Professor and Consultant at ENT Department KEM Hospital. She spoke of how it as an extremely invisible disability and that spread genetically. “It is important to spread the word to every parent and ask for their child to be tested for hearing loss as early as birth”, she put forth.

As I sat there listening to the facts and figures, my curiosity was met by a real life recipient of an implant system, Debashree Lokhande an architect by profession and a bilateral Cochlear™ Nucleus® 6 implantee. Not often do we hear such brave stories where she lost her hearing due to TB in 2014 and now after a Cochlear™ implant surgery, proudly enjoys her life again. With Dr Neelam Vaid, it was interesting to know her journey from silence to the first magical sound after 2 years.

Cochlear™ implants have been implanted in children for almost 15 years now with fabulous outcomes. What’s important is to make sure this message reaches the rural India too, where many cases go unnoticed. Brett Lee with the campaign Sounds of Cricket wishes to do just that. “Cricket is one game that has a mass appeal – urban and rural. With this in mind I wish to spread this word far and wide”, he signs off.