The Chief Minister's Insurance Scheme comes with a tagline: For life-saving speciality treatment. While what they did for Kavyadarshini (2) will not come under emergency treatment, it certainly has given her a fresh lease of life and a voice.

It is possibly the first time a cochlear implant has been covered under a medical insurance scheme; and certainly, the first-ever time a State-sponsored insurance scheme has borne part of expenses. The surgeon who could be called the catalyst of this change is Mohan Kameswaran, Managing Director, Madras ENT Research Foundation (MERF), for whom it has been the stuff of dreams. “We have been campaigning for this for years now. At this hospital alone, we have 1200 children on the waiting list for cochlear implants,” he says.

The total cost could be as high as Rs.6 lakh, all inclusive. “Obviously, this means people below poverty line cannot access this miracle procedure that can help a child born profoundly deaf hear,” Dr. Kameswaran adds.

While MERF, through a charitable trust, seeks to make the procedure available for the poor, the numbers are obviously limited. “We are grateful to the Chief Minister, who took a personal interest in this, and Star Health Insurance that gave the go-ahead for this procedure.”

As Kavyadarshini's father Muthukrishnan, a fisherman from Adirapattinam in Thanjavur district carries her off crying lustily, Pandurangan, a driver from Hosur, walks up with his son Nanda, who is silent in contrast. Nanda, who is six years old, is the next candidate for cochlear transplant under this insurance scheme. His parents hope that Nanda's sister Progisha, 3, also profoundly deaf, will also get a new lease of life through a cochlear implant.

The Chief Minister's Insurance Scheme already provides for corrective surgeries for birth defects, says V. Jaganathan, chairman and managing director, Star Health Insurance.

The decision to allow CI surgeries was taken after Dr. Kameswaran approached their team.