If you ever meet Aanya Chatterjee (1 year 8 months), she would probably make your day. By her first birthday, Aanya was extremely adorable, smart, and quite precocious, but she hadn’t spoken her first word nor had she walked. When she didn’t jump out of her skin like other kids to the sound of a balloon burst, her parents realized their baby girl might have never heard anything all her life. Tests revealed that she was a Mondini child, with a semi-formed cochlea and profound loss in hearing. It takes two implants to gift Aanya a complete sense of sound and ability to speak, and she is waiting for her second one.
A toy told us what we didn’t want to hearAanya has a congenital defect that left her with cochlea that has one and a half coils of instead of two in both ears. As a result, she has never been able to hear nor respond since birth. It is quite hard to diagnose this condition in an infant as there aren’t many symptoms that set off alarms, and it takes a while for every child to show speech development. Since no parent is ever ready to accept something so terrible could be happening to their seemingly perfect child, it took a year for them to recognize this problem and have her treated.
Thinking back to the times that Aanya didn’t react to sounds, Sulagno says he performed a simple test. He bought her a lovely interactive toy that would light up and play music.
“She would get so happy and play when the toy was in front of her. When I put it behind her, I realized that she couldn’t hear it and the lights made her happy.” They knew then that she hadn’t heard anything for a year, and it was probably why she was such a quiet child.
Sound of the world for her, sound of her voice for them
Aanya got operated at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital by Dr. Shalabh Sharma. While every parent wants to get the best for their child, Sulagno could afford only the basic implant costing Rs. 5.8 Lakhs for his daughter’s left ear. As soon as she recovered, he enrolled her for Speech therapy at Asha Speech and Hearing Clinic registered with Cochlear Australia.
After her first cochlear implant, speech therapy, and occupational therapy, there was no stopping Aanya from babbling her first words. Hearing her say anything remotely like Papa or Mumma sparked a joy that her parents have never felt before. This baby girl who hadn’t previously reacted to the sound of crackers or the noisy crowd at a family gathering finally began to appreciate voice, noise, and music like every child in the first months of discovering the world around them. Her father Sulagno Chatterjee believes that his daughter is really 8 months old owing to a rebirth with a sense of sound.
It’s time to do the right thing
Children with Mondini syndrome usually take more time to show results in speech development due to which the family has decided to go ahead with another surgery to restore hearing in her right ear. They have chosen the same basic implant, and hope to have the surgery soon. As she grows, an MRI may be necessary to check if she still meets all criteria for the implant. An MRI indicates that she would have to go through three surgeries, one to remove the implant that contains a magnet, another to reinsert after the procedure, and third for the right ear. It would be terrible for this little child to tolerate so much stress, and so the family is opting for the surgery in the next six months when her development still meets all parameters for the second implant.
The parents have exhausted over Rs. 9 lakhs in savings so far on her first surgery and subsequent treatments since April. In this short span, it has been difficult to come up with the entire sum required to purchase the implant before the surgery. Sulagno is contributing a part of the sum required for the treatment from the last of his savings, while his colleagues have pitched in for the fund that can grant Aanya more than just the sense of sound.
There is no insurance provider in India who covers for people with congenital defects or a corrective surgery like cochlear implant even in the case of a dependant.
Your contribution can give Aanya a real sense of the world, and a piece of the puzzle she has been missing during the most precious years of her life.
The specifics of this case has been verified with the concerned hospital. For more information please contact the campaign organizer.