Pune-based Sonali Gaikwad, 24, has visited Mumbai more than 30 times in the last year and a half to raise money for the treatment of her four-year-old son Shritesh, who suffers from bilateral hearing loss.
According to doctors, Shritesh needs cochlear implants which cost around Rs 5.5 lakh. The surgery will be conducted at KEM hospital, Parel, when Sonali gathers the amount. So far, she has managed to collect Rs 2.7 lakh. Helping the Gaikwads to raise the remaining amount, a KEM surgeon is following up an application for the prime minister's fund, which helps the poor.
Initially, the Gaikwads did not realise that Shritesh, their only child, was suffering from a congenital disease. When he turned two, they found out that he wasn't able to speak even common words.
Finally, it struck them something was amiss. The parents then ran from pillar to post to seek treatment. Once a brainstem evoked response audiometry test was conducted, Shritesh was put through a series of investigations and was given a hearing aid trial, but without much benefit.
After consulting several doctors in Pune, the Gaikwads came in touch with Dr Hetal Marfatia Patel, a professor at KEM hospital's ENT department. By this time, Shritesh became a year and a half years old.
Dr Patel told the Gaikwads that the implants were their only hope. "There are many people who face financial problems when it comes to implanting this costly device. The patient's relatives went to several charity organisations to raise funds. I am taking an interest in the Gaikwad's case and following it up with different NGOs. The Gaikwads have filed an application with the prime minister's fund. They did not get a reply, so I am looking into it. I have also advised them to approach another NGO," said Dr Patel.
"The cochlear implant is put in the cochlea where hair cells are not functioning. The implant's electrode functions as the cochlea, converting electrical energy into sound energy thus making sound to be heard. After the two-hour-long surgery, the patient also needs speech therapy to get better results," he said.
Sonali says she will go to any extent for his treatment. "We have come to Mumbai more than 30 times in the last year and a half. Our sole target is to raise funds for our son's treatment. Our only dream is that our son should go to school for regular children and talk like others," she said.