Abu Dhabi: Three-year-old Yara was a fortunate child when she arrived in the UAE from Gaza to receive the much-sought medical assistance her mother has been hoping for.
Yara Muhanna was only seven months old when she contracted bacterial meningitis that caused a high fever and hearing loss.
Her mother, Maha Muhanna, took Yara to a number of doctors in Gaza after learning that Yara urgently needs a cochlear implant - a surgically implanted electronic device that helps a deaf person regain his sense of hearing.
However, due to the lack of medical supplies and human resources in Gaza, she was unable to receive the help she needed.
"The medical [care] in Gaza is very poor, especially [recently] with the war. Even if you find a good doctor, there's very little that can be done with the limited medical facilities in Palestine. Children are dying by the day, Yara is indeed a fortunate child to have received help," said the mother.
Maha decided to contact the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment through the Palestinian Children Relief Fund to help raise Dh120,000 for Yara's surgery.
"The response was immediate and Yara and I arrived in the UAE in January and on February 5 Yara underwent a three-hour endoscopic surgery in which a cochlear implant was placed on the left part of Yara's brain," said the mother.
According to Dr Mazen Mohammad Al Hajri, an Emirati ENT (ear, nose and throat) consultant who has performed 176 similar surgeries and operated on Yara, her condition is not uncommon among Palestinians.
"From 2 to 4 per cent of Palestinians have damaged hearing due to the severe noise of bombs and weapons," Dr Hajri said.
, who confirmed that baby Yara should be regaining her hearing on Wednesday (yesterday), which is also the same day Yara will be required to wear an external hearing processor to maximize her hearing capabilities.
"An external processor has both a magnet and a hearing aid which receives a voice and transfers it to the brain through magnetic waves," said the doctor.
Regaining her hearing and speech however are not enough to help Yara improve. "She must be treated as a newly born baby who's only started to experience and learn things in life. Yara needs follow-up for a good two to three years. This can be done through a speech therapist for the deaf and mute without usage of signals, recital and through the environment, her mother and close ones should continuously encourage her to talk," he said.
The expected signs that will help Yara's mother and doctor detect her regaining her hearing includes eye contact, placing her hand on the left side of her head and either crying or laughing.