Music to Her Ears: Kazbano's Journey
Imagine watching a movie, only to have the television suddenly muted, and you can't find the remote control. That would be an unsettling and frustrating experience for the average person. But this has been Kazbano Shoukat's everyday reality since birth. A little girl with congenital hearing loss, Kazbano lives in Memon Goth, an eastern neighbourhood of Karachi. Kazbano's father, Shoukat Ali, has four children: Horiya, Arshia, Shaheer, and Kazbano. A tailor by profession, much of his income is spent on the family's basic amenities.

Congenital hearing loss is a condition in which an infant is born with hearing impairment. Medical intervention is required during the child's early years to ensure successful treatment. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) cross-sectional study of 377 children diagnosed with congenital hearing loss, 47.5% faced moderate challenges in joining social activities, and 26% faced severe challenges. Additionally, 39% of these children caused a moderate financial strain on their parents.*

Shoukat has been to many doctors and clinics, and with good reason; his son, Shaheer, was also born without hearing. Shoukat's wife recalls when Shaheer was an infant, “I started to notice that Shaheer would not get bothered when children would play and make a lot of noise. Now he is seven. Doctors say that treatment at his age is not possible."

Shoukat adds, “We spent around six to seven years just trying to find out what was happening with him and how to treat him. Unfortunately, we missed the critical time when we could have helped him."

However, the couple was much more prepared when Kazbano was born and began showing familiar symptoms. Shoukat's wife describes the first year following Kazbano's birth: “We had suspicions that Kazbano was also experiencing challenges like Shaheer's. Her first birthday passed by, and she still wasn't speaking or responding to sounds."

This time, Shoukat and his wife were more aggressive in their search for help. They reached out to friends, local clinics, and hospitals. A local clinic advised them to visit the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi.

Shoukat remembers the fateful day when his daughter's fate intertwined with AKUH: “We met with Dr. Sohail Awan on 11 August 2023. He conducted some tests, diagnosed the condition Kazbano was suffering from, and prescribed a treatment to restore her ability to hear. We were elated."

The happiness for the couple was cut short with the cost estimate for the treatment. “We could not afford any treatment at a local clinic. How could we afford treatment at AKUH? We were given an estimate of Rs. 4.1 million. That amount was something I could not even begin to think about paying."

Shoukat and his wife met the doctor again and mentioned that they could not afford the costs of the prescribed treatment. Shoukat smiles and narrates the conversation following their statement: “The doctor assured us that our inability to afford Kazbano's treatment would not be an impediment to the treatment she deserved. He guided us to approach the Patients' Behbud Society for AKUH and apply for financial assistance."

When Shoukat and his wife approached PBS, the team at PBS conducted a review of their financial condition and recommended their case for Zakat disbursement. The case was approved by the PBS management and Shoukat only needed to focus on the health of his daughter.

Kazbano's surgery was successfully performed in October 2023. During this life-changing surgery, she received a cochlear implant that allowed her to hear sounds for the first time. Shoukat feels grateful for all the help he has received: “I can vouch that all the money being spent by PBS is towards a noble cause. I am grateful to PBS for their help, and also to the doctors and nursing staff at AKUH."

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