Jonathan Oosthuizen (16), like many other teenagers, is not a stranger to problems with his ears.  Since he struggled with ear infections his whole life, Jonathan and his family did not immediately realise anything out of the ordinary was going on even though it seemed as if his hearing had started to deteriorate. If only they knew…

Persistent problems

Jonathan is a computer game enthusiast as well as an aspiring IT specialist and his problems with his ears were making it hard to keep on doing the things he was passionate about. Terrible headaches, trouble with keeping his balance as well as increasing difficulty hearing and concentrating at school were just some of the symptoms that Jonathan had to cope with every day.

Terrible news

After his ear started bleeding, Jonathan’s very worried mother realised that something was wrong and took him to the doctor. Jonathan’s case was referred to a specialist and it was in the specialist’s office where Jonathan and his family received soul-crushing news: not only did Jonathan only have 7% hearing left in his right ear, but he also had a cholesteatoma (an overgrowth of skin cells into the middle ear caused by his recurring ear infections) The cholesteatoma, although not cancerous, could eventually infiltrate the middle ear to such an extent that the small hearing bones were rendered useless. If the cholesteatoma was removed, Jonathan could be fitted with hearing aids to make up for his hearing loss.

There was only one problem: Jonathan’s family couldn’t – in any way – afford to pay for the surgery.

Operation Healing Hands to the rescue

Jonathan’s case was referred to the team of surgeons at Operation Healing Hands who immediately became involved. On a Friday morning in April this year, Jonathan underwent surgery at Zuid-Afrikaans Hospital to have the cholesteatoma removed. It was a long and intense 4 hour operation since the damage caused by the growth was more than initially expected, but OHH’s surgeons persisted and the 1st stage of surgery was successful.

The road ahead

OHH’s partner’s at The Ear Institute came on board and fitted Jonathan with a state of the art Phonak hearing aid. The next step for Jonathan is the second and final operation to remove the three damaged middle ear bones and replace it with a titanium prosthesis that will allow better conduction of sound from his eardrum to his inner ear.

A future once marred by the struggles that came with hearing loss is suddenly bright and full of endless possibility – thanks to our doctors, hospitals and partners with big hearts.

~Article by Magriet Stander


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