Pretoria – Local doctors stepped up to make a difference in the life of 2-year-old Kara Kruger last year, when they gave her a cochlear implant and therefore the gift of hearing, much to the delight of her parents, who said they were eternally grateful for the life-changing procedure.
Her mother, Brumilda Kruger, said it was when Kara, at 11 months, was not sitting that she realised something was wrong.
No matter what exercises her mother tried, she would just throw herself back violently and refused to sit in an upright position.
“She would not eat anything with texture and preferred to just have milk out of a bottle,” she told the Pretoria News.
But, said the mother, she shook the feeling that there might be something wrong with her daughter off, because her 4-year-old son was born with clubfoot and other severe medical conditions.
“I was just happy to live a quiet life with no weekly doctor visits, no theatres, no heartbreak and tears and financial stress.”
Kruger and her husband Stefan put Kara into daycare, hoping it would stimulate her development, but she got the shock of her life when she picked Kara up from daycare one day and was called in by the head of the school and told what she already knew – but needed to hear from someone else.
“I was told Kara was way behind with her milestones and she needed to be evaluated as soon as possible.”
Shortly thereafter, she made an appointment at the Baby Therapy Centre in the city, where Kara was evaluated by several therapists, and the report said she was on par with an 8-month-old – she was a year old at that time.
They ruled out many syndromes but were sure there was something wrong with her ears.
Kara went through a battery of tests, after which she was diagnosed as profoundly deaf. She was unable to understand speech through hearing, even when the sound was amplified with hearing aids.
“We were told our baby would never be able to learn to speak or live a normal life.”
Kara’s first implant was performed on October 9 last year, at Zuid- Afrikaans Hospital and on November 15 the cochlear device was switched on.
After going under the knife, Kara spent four weeks healing. She responded immediately with a smile which then turned to cries.
Kruger described the scene of witnessing her daughter hear for the first time as a modern-day miracle, and she became what is now a bubbly toddler.
Her mother said now they found joy in small things and were a unique, new, modern-day family.
She said the once introverted little girl who was scared to interact now had occasional bursts of happiness.
“The hearing aids seemed to have activated her bubbly personality, as she now allows contact with people.
“Now she sits up straight and makes an enormous amount of noise,” she said.
“This has had a huge impact on our lives, because when pregnant parents see a bright future, it never crosses our minds that you might be told that your daughter is having difficulties hearing.
“And when you find the help, you have to go through thinking about how your child will go under the knife. It was a scary time, but we are glad it is over,” she added.
In early January, Kara had a hearing test.
On January 22 she received her second implant and on February 20 it was switched on. This time, there were no tears, only smiles.