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Three–year–old Taranjit Khullar looks around with a dimpled smile and wonder in his eyes. He finds the gathering exciting and claps in delight. While other children of his age say nursery rhymes at top speed, Taranjit only makes odd sounds. That is because till four months ago, he was deaf.

By the time his parents realized this, he had turned two. "We went from pillar to post, but just could not find any cure. A cochlear implant was the only way out. But it was an expensive option," said Sandeep, Taranjit’s father. The Nagpur–based family then went to the civic–run KEM Hospital, Parel, where they met charitable organizations that provided funding for the device.

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Taranjit is one of 100 children to have received the expensive implant at KEM in the last five years; KEM is the only public hospital to have achieved the feat. In the private sector, Hinduja Hospital has been at the forefront as far as cochlear implants are concerned.

Soon, 50 more children with hearing impairment will receive complete funding from the charity commission to get cochlear implants in KEM Hospital. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s wife Satvashila made an announcement on Monday for the immediate release of 50 such instruments.

Dr Hetal Marfatia Patel, associate professor at KEM’s ENT department, said, "A child’s brain is at its learning best below the age of two. It is thus better if a child is diagnosed correctly for deafness and treated at the right time, so that she or he gets an equal opportunity to learn."

Times of India
24 Sep 2013

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