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Over 600 cochlear implants celebrated at hospital

Tygerberg Hospital and Stellenbosch University’s Cochlear Implant Unit on Saturday celebrated 30 years since the first cochlear implant took place at the hospital.

The celebration provided an opportunity for all the role-players, cochlear implant users and their families to celebrate this milestone with provincial minister for health, Nomafrench Mbombo.

The first multichannel cochlear implant was done on 4 November 1986 by the ear, nose and throat specialist and head of the department, Professor Derrick Wagenfeld, and audiologist Alida Müller. Since then 640 adults and children have received implants.

These implant programmes have spread to selected hospitals throughout South Africa. Cochlear implantation can be called a modern miracle and is now firmly established as an effective option in the rehabilitation of children and adults with severe to profound hearing loss.

Initially only adults with bilateral profound hearing loss who lost their hearing after they had developed spoken language, could receive implants. In 1988 the first child received an implant at the age of nine years. Children younger than two years could not receive implants until 1998.

In 1999 the first six-month old child received a cochlear implant.

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