A thoughtful donation from one government department to another has ensured that an eight-year-old girl from Cuddalore will soon hear and talk like others in her family.

Shabana Azmi underwent cochlear implant surgery at the Government General Hospital last Tuesday. The little girl is the first patient to receive the implant free of cost at a government hospital in the State. A cochlear implant costs Rs. 5 lakh and though the hospital does surgeries free of cost, the disposable consumables used for the procedure also cost money, said Hospital Dean J. Mohanasundaram.

TIIC offered support

Shabana, who was born deaf, hails from a poor rural family and could not afford the expensive implant. Doctors at the GH decided to approach philanthropists and their search ended with the Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation (TIIC), which offered to support the surgery. The effort provided the hospital the impetus to take forward the project. “We were trying to start the programme in our hospital, but cochlear implant is very expensive and the Kalaignar insurance scheme does not cover the entire expenses. That was when we approached others for funds and the TIIC came forward.”

TIIC chairperson Sheela Rani Chunkath said her department came forward to fund the surgery when the GH dean made the request. “Once it has been demonstrated that the GH has the expertise to do this kind of surgery the funds will automatically flow, particularly in an era of private healthcare,” she said.

Shabana will undergo a long session of speech therapy after she recuperates from the surgery. It will be some time before the girl starts talking, hospital sources said.

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