Four cochlear implantations in Namibia

In April 2018 I had the privilege to partake in four cochlear implantations in Namibia. We implanted four patients, three adults and a child. It was again great to team up with my fellow ear nose and throat surgeon, Dr Stephan van der Westhuizen.

Four cochlear implantations in Namibia
The team that performed the cochlear implants in Namibia

What made it special is that he and I also performed the first cochlear implantations in Namibia a few years ago. The cochlear implant team led by Dr van der Westhuizen and audiologist Janet Brits is now well established in Namibia. The surgeries were performed at the new Lady Pohamba Private Hospital (LPPH). The advantage is that in the future Namibian patients would no longer have to travel to South Africa for cochlear implantations. Follow up mappings will all be done at the practice.

This was also a milestone for the hearing implant company MED-EL whose implants were used for the first time in Namibia. The new type of implants used is state of the art with a very fine design to preserve as much of the fine inner structures of the cochlea. It is also able to withstand a 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the only device currently on the market able to do so.

For two of the adults with severe to profound hearing loss a cochlear implant was the only option for better hearing. For the other adult who, had single sided deafness, the restoration of hearing in the affected ear was our aim. With adequate rehabilitation the child that was implanted will now be able to develop speech and language. Speech- and language development is not possible without hearing. There is also a critical limited time that this can happen in any child. The sooner an implant is performed the better. The full potential of this child is now unlocked.

MED-EL kindly sponsored two of the implants to the patients who may have otherwise not have had the funds to pay for the privilege to hear. We would like to thank Mr. Charles Dippenaar, CEO from MED-EL South Africa, for this kind gesture. MED-EL is committed to provide continues support to the implant program in Namibia.