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He Can Hear You Now!

Toddler with Hearing Loss is Already Talking after ACH Surgery and Therapy

Ebrahim Khatri, who celebrated his first birthday in March, is always excited to offer passersby a friendly wave and a cheerful, "Hiiiii!"

Just months earlier, his mother and father didn't know if they'd ever have a chance to hear him say that or the handful of other words he's now using on a regular basis.

Ebrahim failed the hearing screening given to every newborn in Arkansas. Two weeks later, he failed a second follow-up test at Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH). He was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears.

"Initially, it was heartbreaking," said his mother, Nudrat Khatri, MD. "All we could think is, 'What will his future be like?'"

A fellow in geriatric medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, she knew first-hand how important it would be for her family to research their options and find the best solutions for Ebrahim.

They wanted a future for their son that included developed speech and the ability to hear.

"We wanted to know he'd be able to succeed at anything he wanted to do," Nudrat said. "And we found that if you catch a baby up in these early years, he could be fine and have very little impairment."

Nudrat and her husband, Altaf, looked into several programs with national recognition and traveled to other facilities before deciding ACH offered the world-class care they needed close to home.

"We learned that right here at ACH they were doing the same procedures and interventions," Nudrat said. "We have been so pleased with what ACH has been able to do for our son."

A month after Ebrahim's birth, he started using a hearing aid. Later, Ebrahim received his first cochlear implant during a surgery at ACH. His second will be placed by ACH neurotologist John L. Dornhoffer, MD, in early summer.

The family's attitude and dedication has made a tremendous difference over the last year, according to ACH Audiologist Rachel Sievers, AuD, CCC-A.

"They're a family that hasn't let anything hinder them, and they are probably the greatest catalyst for his success," Sievers said. "They use every opportunity to teach him new sounds and words."

Each week the family brings Ebrahim to ACH for speech therapy with pathologist Tracy Pate, MS, CCC-SLP, LSLS, as well. During these visits, Nudrat takes careful notes about the sounds Ebrahim needs to hear more and thinks about ways to go over them at home when he's crawling and playing.

His grandparents, Maimoona and Iqbal, also work with Ebrahim, asking him questions and helping him understand the English, Kutchi and Hindi spoken in the multilingual household. They also read Arabic to him.

The family's effort is obvious. Ebrahim now says "Maaa" for mother and "Abba" for father. He also offers an excited "Uh oh!" whenever he drops a toy. To the entire family's delight, he also understands simple commands and is associating words they say with objects they show him.

Sievers says she has every expectation that ACH's treatment and therapies, combined with the Khatris' dedication, will mean Ebrahim has a bright future filled with sound, conversation and whatever dreams he hopes to achieve.

"It is really what we desire for every patient who walks in our door," she said. "A supportive family in which to thrive!"

If you think your child could benefit from the Audiology and Speech Pathology programs offered at Arkansas Children's Hospital, ask your family pediatrician about a referral. They can connect with the team by calling (501) 364-4319 or emailing audiospeech@archildrens.org.