Wearing a different hat, former Australia cricketer Brett Lee on Wednesday said “everybody deserves to hear the sounds of life”, and urged the Indian government to make hearing screening for newborn babies mandatory.
The fast bowler, who is now Cochlear’s Global Hearing Ambassador, was in the city’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital to raise awareness about Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS).
“I am super proud to be here today, I have always said that when you speak about doctors it’s like cricket thing, the doctors might be the captains, the physicians might be the fast bowlers, the speech therapist might be the all-rounders. We are all doing a job to try to benefit these children. Well done to the hospital, they have done the hard work. We have seen so many Cochlear implants,” Lee said.
Lee is actively involved in raising awareness about hearing screening for newborn babies, more so after his son suffered a temporary hearing loss some time ago.
“One of my proudest moments is not playing sports but what has been achieved here (children with ear implants singing). It’s purely a miracle and you guys must be so proud of what you have achieved and your team has achieved.”
Lee asked a girl with an implant to sing for him, and she performed the iconic Bollywood song ‘Chhodo kal ki baatein’ for him.
Speaking at a media briefing before this event, Lee said, “I want to use this platform to draw attention to the growing incidence of profound hearing loss, because I strongly believe that everybody deserves to hear the sounds of life.
“No one in this world deserves to live in silence. People should know that hearing loss is treatable and that it should not prevent a person from leading an active, full life. Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) can help address these issues early in life.”
Leading surgeons and experts from the city – Shalabh Sharma (ENT Consultant Surgeon, SGRH), and Asha Agarwal (Cochlear implant consultant) joined Lee to talk about hearing related issues.
Earlier, dressed in a morning grey T-shirt, the Aussie pacer looked anxious as the doctors conducted a hearing test on a two and a half hour old baby.
Lee said raising awareness for hearing impairment resonates with him. “My son had a fall when he was about five years old. Most of his hearing in the right ear disappeared. We had a hearing test and his range went from the normal range right down to the bottom of the lower rank.”
Concerned about his son’s well being, Lee started looking at different ways to raise a child with a hearing disability.
“He had to sit in the front of the class, close to the teacher with his left ear facing forward. Lucky for him that it was a compressed nerve and his hearing came back naturally,” the speedster said.