Khadija gets her hearing back after surgery

On a political level, they may fight tooth and nail, but on a personal level, people from India and Pakistan share one another’s anguish. Khadija, 21 months old, is the latest example of how Indian doctors rose to the occasion to extend a healing touch. Moreover, they did it free of cost.

Little over a month ago, the girl was staring blankly at people around her, trying to figure out what they were saying. Born deaf, she had come to the Apollo Hospitals for a cochlear implant surgery, the first such case from across the border.

The operation was done free of cost by the hospital, with financial assistance from the Society to Aid the Hearing Impaired (SAHI), and help from the Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA). “We have switched on the machine and she is doing well. With proper rehabilitation for the next one year or more, she should be like any ordinary girl, hearing and talking in a normal manner,” says Dr. Vinaya Kumar E.C., ENT consultant.

Such operations usually cost up to Rs. 12 lakh. However, SAHI intervention meant that Adnan Adeel, an electrical engineer from Karachi, and his wife Sahar Bano, had to just bear travel and boarding expenses, for the operation of their second daughter.

“I didn’t realise that she was born deaf till she was 15 months old. When I took her to a hospital, I was told she needed the cochlear implant, and it would cost up to 2.5 million Pakistan rupees,” he recalls.

It was while searching the Internet that he chanced upon the Apollo Hospitals-SAHI initiative, and sent them an e-mail, as these operations weren’t very common in his country.

“I took out all my savings, raised a loan, and even began scouring for donations, as it is my responsibility to give her a better life. Except for SAHI, no one responded,” he explains.

“We have helped in 100 cochlear implant operations, yet this was the first request from abroad. We were apprehensive at first, and then realised that we are here to help any needy child,” says Dr. Sunita Reddy, Director, Vijay Group, and a SAHI member. “My daughter got a new life here. The love, affection and care extended to us are beyond my expectations. These memories will remain lifelong; I came here as a family of three, and I am returning home with a large family,” he smiles, preparing for the journey home.