Monday, December 10, 2012

KCAT CAN: Giving the deaf the chance to hear again

Giving the deaf the chance to hear
by Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza 
December 10, 2012

As most of you know, Med-el is my cochlear implant provider. But it isn’t just a brand of a hearing device. Having it also means having a whole company that supports you. When I decided to choose Med-el a few months before I had the implant in 2007, I felt that I did not only enter another dramatic change in my life, but more than that, I was welcomed to an additional family, the Med-el family.

A couple of days ago, I attended the 15th anniversary of Med-el. We were so lucky that it has an office in the Philippines to help people with hearing impairment to be able to hear life once again.
There were a lot of people, mostly kids, with round-shape magnets with a wire attached to their heads. It is called a speech processor, the external part of a cochlear implant. To us, it is a hair accessory.

One of the things that I look forward to whenever I attend a Med-el gathering is seeing these deaf kids perform and display their talents. They danced to the beat even if they could not fully hear the sound or lyrics of a song. Some of them sang while some served as hosts. Others played musical instruments even though they did not really distinguish every pitch of the sound they made. And most of all, it was really fun to see them play around like children with normal hearing ability.


A schoolmate, Carl Vincent Blix Lingat is also wearing a cochlear implant. When Blix was only a year old, he was diagnosed with profound hearing loss due to unknown cause. His mother Ellen wanted him to have a comfortable life despite his disability so he researched about his condition. With the cochlear implant, the then two-year-old Blix could hear the sounds of the world and was able to develop his speech, with the help of his mom. At four, he was already able to attend a SPED school. After further evaluation, he was transferred to a regular school. He attended kindergarten at San Sebastian College and later on transferred to Don Bosco School–Manila where he is now in Grade 3.

Just because Blix has special needs doesn’t mean he has to be treated differently.  There’s no need for special treatment, but his school is considerate enough to put him in front of the class so he would be able to hear everything clearly. Other than his difficulty in hearing, Blix is like any normal nine-year-old kid who enjoys laughing, playing, and hanging around with his friends. In fact, he even excels in school, finding joy in studying and reading. He has also won a couple of academic awards.

“Blix is a very sweet, loving and obedient child,” shares Ellen. He loves to cuddle and to express his love and affection for his mom. He often tells her that his only dream is to buy her a house and give her a better life.

“Mama, how do you feel that you have a deaf child?” Blix unexpectedly asked his mother one time. Ellen replied, “I feel so lucky to have you.”

Living with a hearing impairment is not an obstacle to having a good and better life. It is always a matter of choosing to live the life we want, despite the circumstances.


During the Med-el event, the organizers announced that three persons will be given cochlear implant devices for free. Upon learning about it, I said to my mom that I hope the three kids that I featured in my previous column (The Gift of Hearing – August 5, 2012) would win. My mom asked what their names are but even before I finished saying the name Zyrene Fernandez, her name was already called. She won! I was cheering on my seat as if I won a prize myself. And then Zoe Oabel’s name was also called. Yey! I am really happy for both of them. They will be able to hear the noisy world soon. This is like winning one million pesos because a unit of cochlear implant device costs that much. Now, they only need to raise the money for the surgery.

Zyrene, aged 4 and Zoe, 2, will probably have their cochlear implantation early next year and their parents are raring to raise funds to make their dreams come true. There are two separate ongoing raffles for their cause.

The Gift of Hearing for Zyrene Raffle is being sold for R100 per ticket. Not only will you be able to help Zyrene; you also have a chance to win a Sony Xperia Tipo, Timex watch, and an SM Gift Card. The draw date is on Dec. 31. If you wish to help, you may get in touch with Zyrene’s father, Christopher Fernandez, at 0917-8873015.

The Help Zoe Hear Raffle for a Cause will be drawn on Dec. 23, and is also being sold at R100 per ticket. Prizes include a Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 mobile phone, Nikon Coolpix S2500 digital camera, and a Philips rice cooker. To support, call Zoe’s mother, Theresa Oabel, at 0906-4311405.

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