Groote Schuur ‘proud’ of first cochlear operation

Xolani Maxhego, centre, gives the thumbs up to Groote Schuur Hospital staff and the cochlear implant donors after undergoing surgery at the hospital.

Xolani Maxhego from Gugulethu, says he feels reborn and hopes to return to work soon after receiving the first cochlear implant done at the Groote Schuur Hospital.

Mr Maxhego gradually lost his hearing after he was assaulted by a gang in 2003.

He was admitted to Tygerberg Hospital for his injuries and doctors told him he was experiencing hearing loss from meningitis.

He continued to work but in 2014 he lost his hearing completely and he was dismissed.

Mr Maxhego, 37, who is married with two children, said he felt like he lost a part of himself. He said he could not communicate with his family, he lost his friends and he was unable to work.

Dr Tasneem Harris, a ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) at Groote Schuur, said patients were first given a hearing aid but if that didn’t improve their hearing, they became eligible for a cochlear implant, an electronic medical device which replaces the function of the inner ear.

Dr Harris said the process had involved a team of experts, including audiologists, radiologists, rehabilitation therapists, nurses and a social worker.

After the operation in August, Mr Maxhego was expected to do nothing but relax, as he healed, before returning to the hospital for rehabilitation.

Through rehab he will learn to process sounds better.

Nikki Keeton, a rehabilitation therapist who will assist Mr Maxhego said they needed to reteach his brain how to hear sounds and process it them in a normal way.
Mr Maxhego said he is very happy and feels “like a newborn”.

His biggest hope is that he will be able to go back to work next year.

Hospital spokesperson Alaric Jacobs said: “Groote Schuur Hospital is proud that we could do our first cochlear operation. We hope that it would be the first of many. Just to see the difference it made to the life of that patient, makes us feel happy.”