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Israeli hospital helps deaf Palestinian children hear for first time

Jerusalem medical center carries out 16 cochlear implant surgeries as part of Peres Center for Peace project

Illustrative: Doctors at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem performing surgery, Jerusalem, March 5, 1990. (Nati Shohat/Flash90/File)
Illustrative: Doctors at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem performing surgery, Jerusalem, March 5, 1990. (Nati Shohat/Flash90/File)

Sixteen deaf Palestinian children were able to hear for the first time after undergoing a procedure at an Israeli hospital to repair their hearing, Hebrew media reported Saturday.

The operations to repair the children’s hearing, known as cochlear implant surgery, were performed by doctors at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem over the course of the past several months, according to the Ynet news website.

The last six surgeries took place over the course of just a few days.

Dr. Michal Kaufmann, who performed the surgeries, told Ynet that being able to perform the operations was quite difficult due to the “logistical challenge[s].”

“Many authorizations were required from the Defense Ministry,” she said, adding that “some of the children arrived without a medical record and required extensive tests at Hadassah alongside emotional and psychological treatment.”

The surgery involves a small electronic implant being directly inserted into the cochlear hearing nerve in the ear to stimulate the auditory senses, with an external microphone then transferring the sounds to the internal part of the device and allowing the patient to hear, according to John Hopkins Hospital.

Although the device itself does not completely restore hearing, patients who undergo the operation are eventually able to recover their ability to discern sounds with the help of continued therapy.

Illustrative photo of deaf Palestinian children playing at a rehabilitation foundation for deaf children, in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. January 18, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of deaf Palestinian children playing at a rehabilitation foundation for deaf children, in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. January 18, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The surgeries were carried out as part of a program by the Peres Peace Center, founded by the late Israeli political leader Shimon Peres, for Palestinian children from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Kaufmann described the Peres Center for Peace program as “an amazing project,” as it “gives these children the opportunity to step out of their world of silence and live their lives normally and fully.”

“These children couldn’t speak prior to the surgery, they were bereft of any supporting environment, uncommunicative. The surgery opened up their world, the ability to communicate and spread their wings… We are happy to have been able to contribute to such a dramatic change in their lives,” she told Ynet.

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