Today's Big Stories

Pro bono surgery to give deaf Philippi boy his hearing back

Five-year old Oyena Gulwa began losing his hearing at the age of three, but a pro bono surgical procedure has offered him and his family new hope.

His father Zukisani Silwana says they were not sure what was happening when his son fell ill in 2014.

Initially diagnosed with meningitis, the young Philippi boy was referred to several specialists who couldn't seem to treat his worsening condition.

Zukisani says Oyena struggled to walk and lost his hearing, but doctors could not establish the cause of this.

It was a very devastating situation because he lost speech each and every single day.

Zukisani Silwana

Eventually, it was determined that Oyena's deafness was caused by an infection, although his family were not convinced that it was a permanent situation.

Oyena has to be more careful when playing on the streets because he cannot here oncoming traffic and he also cannot enjoy singing along to his favourite songs.

As a father, Zukisani says his son's condition has caused strain on him physically and financially.

Sometimes I want to give up, but I tell myself that I'm raising someone who will one day be a husband to his wife, a father to his children and a leader in his community. So I must try by all means to do my duty.

Zukisani Silwana

But all this will soon change after a cochlear implant procedure this Thursday which is set to restore Oyena's hearing, sponsored by Bidvest Hear for Life.

The Netcare Foundation have donated private hospitalisation and a surgeon and anaesthetist at Netcare N1 city hospital are providing their expertise at no cost.

Zukisani has thanked everyone involved for their kindness and says he will cherish this gift for the rest of his life.


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