Australian cricket great Brett Lee is Cochlear’s first Global Hearing Ambassador. Lee plans to reach out to an estimated 360 million people worldwide suffering from hearing loss and is touring India to spread the message.
Lee was candid enough to talk about his own experience when his son suffered hearing loss in one ear due to a head injury. “Though he regained it after 18 months, but as a parent, I was so tensed,” Lee recalled during his interaction with media persons on Wednesday.
“Hearing loss is a huge public health issue globally and I cannot imagine cricket without sound – on the field, the appeals and the crowd,” Lee said. He met ENT surgeon Dr Neelam Vaid and interacted with one of the recipients of the cochlear implant—37-year-old Sonali Karmakar.
Karmakar told Lee how depressed she was after suffering gradual hearing loss for two years. Her surgery was done in December last year and on Tuesday, she was smiling and happily talking about how she can listen to her daughter and it meant a lot to her. Dr Vaid said there are 63 million people with hearing impairment in India. Four out of every 1,000 children suffer some form of hearing impairment.
Lee, who is in the city for three days meeting corporates, students and senior citizens to spread awareness about hearing impairment, said that parents should take their newborns for screening after birth to identify any kind of hearing loss. It should no longer be a stigma and people who cannot hear can get it rectified with cochlear implants, he said.
Regular hearing checkusp can help overcome the problem, Lee said, recalling a moment in Cambridge where he went to meet a recipient of the cochlear implant—Pamela. “I was present during the switch on and the sheer joy on her face was unforgettable,” he said.
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