The Gift Of Hearing

MANILA, Philippines - Despite being deaf, I am still so much grateful because my hearing loss did not occur from the time I was born. I was still able to hear the sounds of the world for 22 years.

Mayumi's Ears

In January 2011, Byron and Carmela Magday was so happy to learn that they were pregnant with their second child. But during the beginning of her pregnancy, Carmela had rashes, joint pains, and fever. It was not Rubella, but Chikungunya - an insect-borne virus that is transmitted to humans by the virus-carrying Aedes mosquito.

Although it was conclusive that the cause was not rubella infection, the thought that their unborn baby might have been may affected lingered on.

On November 4, 2011, Carmela gave birth to a baby girl. They named her Mayumi Iris. Yumi, as a newborn infant, was quite normal and happy. And then what Byron and Carmela had been fearing happened. Yumi's newborn hearing screening test result showed that she had hearing loss in both ears. After a couple of tests, it was confirmed that Yumi had profound sensorinueral hearing loss in both ears.

At six months, Yumi started to use hearing aid on both ears hoping that she would be able to hear. But she did not.

''Carmela and I were very concerned about her situation. How well would she be able to hear and speak? What would be the impact of her hearing loss to her future? How would she interact with others and learn things without her sense of hearing? These are some of the questions which always resonated in my mind,'' shares Byron.

But their hope was restored when they learned that there is a solution to Yumi's hearing problem - cochlear implant.

During Yumi's follow-up visits with her audiologist, Byron and Carmela were able to meet a couple of children who were benefiting from cochlear implants and could hear audibly and communicate properly. These children gave them a lot more hope that Yumi would soon be able to hear the wonders of sound. Carmela and Byron vowed that they would do their best for Yumi to have a cochlear implant.

''We do not want to end up regretting in the future that our daughter may not be able to speak just because we delayed the recommended intervention, or worse, did nothing at all,'' explains Byron.

Although both of them have stable jobs, the total cost for a cochlear implantation far exceeds their annual gross income, which is just enough for their basic daily needs. They were able to raise some money which they solicited from friends, relatives and colleagues, but they are still R1.13 million away from their target amount. Byron and Carmela are continuously seeking help in order to raise the needed amount for Yumi's cochlear implant. They are doing their best to ask for financial assistance from charitable institutions, government offices, political figures, foundations, and everyone who are willing to help, and one of them can be you. You may contact Carmela Fernandez at 0939-9167852 and direct your donation via BDO (Makati- Esteban branch) - Account name: Mayumi Iris C. Magday. Savings account number: 7190021059.

Zyrene's Ears

Christopher and Maurene Fernandez were so happy when they knew that they were going to have their first child. During her pregnancy, Maurene caught a viral infection called Rubella or otherwise known as German measles. The doctor told them that having that kind of infection during pregnancy would be a risk and can result in birth defects - either sight or hearing problem.

In August 18, 2008, Zyrene Clarisse was born via normal delivery, and was 10 days overdue; but amazingly, she recovered very fast. Her development was remarkable as she was a very healthy baby girl. On her third month, they noticed that Zyrene did not really get startled by loud noises; but she could laugh, giggle, and make all kinds of screeching sounds.

In her first year, they asked Zyrene's pediatrician why she still had not attempted to say the usual ''mama'' and ''dada'' sounds. The doctor said that maybe it was because of speech delay. But they later on found out that Zyrene had profound hearing loss in both ears.

Zyrene started wearing hearing aids in both ears. But after a while, it became clear that she was not receiving much benefit from them; thus cochlear implant was brought up. After doing much research about it, the couple decided to go on with the implant.

Zyrene's otolaryngologist, Dr. Charlotte Chiong, who is my doctor as well, informed them that that the earlier Zyrene would get implanted, the better will be her improvement, especially for her speech ability. The cochlear implant device costs around R1.05 million per unit. Christopher said, ''We really want Zyrene to get implanted so that she could face the world confidently even without us at her side. We just want her to have all the abilities she needs to be able to do what she wishes in this life. We love her so much and we'll do everything to provide her the gift of hearing.''

Let us support the P100 drive for Zyrene's Cochlear Implant. Send in your donations to: BDO Niño-Roosevelt Branch - Account name: Zyrene Clarisse O. Fernandez. Saving account number: 3950074206. Her father Christopher may be contacted at 0917-8873015.

Zoe's Ears

While I was writing this article, I stopped for a while to check my Facebook account and got to chat with Theresa Oabel and learned about her daughter. They are currently raising money for her to have a cochlear implant too.

Oliver and Theresa were blessed with their first child on September 7, 2010. Claire Valerie Zoe seemed to be a healthy baby, until the newborn screening was done. Theresa caught the Rubella virus during her pregnancy and since then, they feared that it might affect their unborn baby, but decided to move forward with hope and accept whatever comes. Zoe was diagnosed with a clogged heart, which is being treated through medication, but the long-term problem would be her hearing loss. With the love and effort of Oliver and Theresa, Zoe was able to acquire a pair of hearing aid on both ears. However, she does not benefit from it and the only solution for her deafness would be a cochlear implant which would also help her develop her speech. Their only problem now is how they could raise R1 million for the said device.

Oliver and Theresa are doing their best to make Zoe hear them while talking with them. Let us help them. Direct your donation via BPI Saving Account Number: 4289016444. Account name: Maria Theresa Anonuevo Oabel. Contact: 0906-4311405 / 489-8882.

These three kids are all anticipating for cochlear implants distributed by MED-EL, which is also my cochlear implant provider.

''Habang may tenga, may pag-asa,'' those were the words of, my doctor, when I totally lost my hearing in 2006. It made me realized that, while there is life, there is definitely always hope.

Yes, indeed there's always a sound hope, just keep the faith.

Compiled in the book, '' A Sound Hope'' are stories children with cochlear implant, which includes my cochlear implantation story relayed by my mom. You can get a copy from the Manila Otolaryngological, Inc., Manila Doctors Hospital or call 521-8095 look for Ms. Carmen or at 373-8282 and look for Ms. Mel.

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