This week my Good News Friday post is going to be completely personal, though it relates to Israel’s medical industry.
I am sitting in Jerusalem right now, keeping my daughter Vered and son-in-law Pini company in Shaare Zedek Hospital as their 9 month old baby daughter Shaked (my baby’s baby) underwent an operation for cochlear implants yesterday. Shaked was born with profound hearing loss – news that came like a bolt out of the blue shortly after she was born. After a few days of shock and helplessness we pulled ourselves together and started looking for answers.
Thank G-d Shaked was born in Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem. That is where she was diagnosed shortly after birth, and that is where her operation was carried out yesterday. Shaare Zedek’s cochlear implant department is one of the leading ones in the country and is headed by one of the most talented, kindest and modest doctors I have ever met, Dr. Ronen Peretz.
In fact, when Vered was in the pre-op prep area with Shaked before the operation and the doctor turned up, everyone said Mazal Tov. She thought it was for her birthday, which was yesterday 😅, 6th Heshvan. But it was because Dr. Peretz was made Professor. And he was all embarrassed and shy about it. He’s so modest and unassuming. A real mensch. Dr. Peretz himself came out halfway through the operation to tell us that the first side was a success and that they were going to proceed with the 2nd side. We did not expect the doctor himself to come out. We expected at most a nurse or secretary.
Until she was old enough to undergo the operation, Shaked has been treated at AV Israel, a hearing rehabilitation organization. Vered and Pini had been given a list of hearing rehab places, including AV Israel, by the hospital at the time of her diagnosis. The decision to go with AV Israel was made easier by our wonderful neighbours, the Crosbie family, who are friends with an amazing lady, Josie Eisner, the co-founder, along with Ayala Tal-El, of AV Israel. Having that personal connection made the process an even easier choice for the family.
Shaked has been treated for the last almost 9 months by the wonderful therapists Miriam, Debbie, Dorit the social worker and so many others at AV Israel, who promote normal communication through speech and play therapy to prepare the child for the moment when they begin hearing properly.
You can learn about the wonderful work of AV Israel at their site. Their philosophy is that these previously-deaf children should be mainstreamed. They should not learn sign language or be sent to special education which used to be the norm in Israel.
Ayala Tal-El won the Prime Minister’s Prize for AV Israel’s work a few years ago. Watch this video (click cc for English subtitles) which describes how she heard about cochlear implants, how she promoted the process of cochlear implants and rehabilitating hearing for deaf children, and her eventually success in persuading the Israeli educational establishment to mainstream these children :
AV Israel’s website has some great videos about the rehabilitation process, with subtitles. Watch this video below to see the process on which Shaked has only just begun. We hope and pray that she will reach the high level that these two cute little boys have reached. The parents in this video have similar reactions to our own:
As to the medical side, here is a promotional video from Shaare Zedek about the cochlear implant. The video has no subtitles, but I have translated the dialogue below::
Narrator: When Dvir was 2 he gradually lost his hearing until he became deaf. The cochlear implants he received in both ears enable him to hear and essentially changed his life.
Idit and Baruch Gittleman, Parents of Dvir: Today he goes to kindergarten in our community, he talks, he participates in the lessons, he had a party this week, he danced, he recited, exactly like everyone else.
Narrator: The cochlear implant has 2 components: an outer unit comprising a microphone and processor which turn sound signals to electronic signals; the inner component was implanted in an operation.
Dr. Ronen Peretz: In effect during the operation we implant an electronic system into the cochlear, and that electronic system stimulates the enrve directly.
Avi Markovitz: And then Dr. Peretz turns on the cochlear implant and he did “snap”, and immediately I had a life. I couldn’t believe it! I heard it!
Narrator: After the operation there begins a rehabilitation process accompanied by speech therapists and a team of multi-disciplinary experts. The challenge is to teach the patient to process the sounds that he hears into language and speech.
Riki Salem, Speech Therapist: it’s a stimulation that is electronic, not acoustic, and the brain has to learn to interpret these signals.
Narrator: The cochlear implant dept. in Shaare Zedek is one of the leading centers in Israel and another center of excellence and devotion which gives our patients the highest quality treatment.
For the technically minded, here is a video about the way cochlear implants work:
And here is a video of Dr. Peretz giving a talk about the actual operation to insert the cochlear implants. Unfortunately it is only in Hebrew and it is too long for me to translate. But at 11:40 you can see Debbie, one of the speech therapists who saw Shaked at AV on one of her first visits. 🙂
Please G-d Shaked will make a full recovery and will advance quickly in her treatment on the way to full hearing.
Please keep Shaked Mazal bat Vered Ayala in your thoughts and prayers.
I would like to thank Dr. Ronen Peretz and all the staff at Shaare Zedek for their wonderful treatment of little Shaked, and their warm and professional attitude. May Hashem always guide them in their healing and care.
Wishing good news and Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.