JHBI Grants Hearing to a Nigerian Professor

For more than 32 years, a mathematics professor in Nigeria had normal hearing. But after three weeks of fever and medication, his hearing became so bad that he could hardly hear a gunshot.

In 2002, Stephen Yaukubu Kutchin woke up one morning with most of his hearing ability gone. A mathematics professor at the University of Jos in Nigeria, Kutchin spent more than five years with limited hearing ability. He frequently asked people to write what they were saying to him and had several uncomfortable encounters with people who did not understand how to interact with a hearing-impaired person. His partial deafness severely limited his ability to teach his classes in a timely matter.

“My social life suffered immensely; I had to stop attending meetings or social gatherings,” Kutchin recalled. “Radio and musical instruments became useless to me. I had to lose many of my friends. Some of them were those who couldn’t write. There was no way for me to communicate directly to those that could not write. Those included the small children. There was no way I could communicate with even sighted people once it was dark. The worst were my students and friends who were blind. I had to keep away from any function that had anything to do with hearing.”

Dr. Green met Kutchin in 2005 through Dr. Joel Anthis, an American ear, nose and throat physician who was working full-time in a Christian missionary hospital in Jos, Nigeria. Dr. Green brought two cochlear implant systems to Nigeria, fitted Kutchin with an implant, and left him in the care of Dr. Anthis.

“Humanly speaking and going by my income; there was no wisdom for me to even dream of ever having such a surgery,” Kutchin said.

However, the wound did not heal properly and the implant was removed. Back at square one, Kutchin thought it was the end of the road for good. But a year later, Dr. Green again traveled to Nigeria and offered Kutchin the chance to visit Jacksonville, Fla., and have cochlear implant surgery free of charge. Kutchin gratefully accepted and spent his time in the United States as a guest of Dr. Green and his family during his period of medical assessments, surgery and healing.

Before the implant surgery, Kutchin suffered from tinnitus, a continuous ringing in the ears. It often spoiled his days and woke him from his sleep. Now back in Nigeria, Kutchin said both his sound perception and speech perception are remarkable.

“My cochlear implantation system has continued to amaze me,” Kutchin stated. “With the device, my sound perception is more than 100 percent normal. The volume of the speech processor can be regulated so I am able to hear sound as audible as I choose to.”

Dr. Green made Kutchin’s visit to the States memorable and allowed him to become part of his family.

“He did so to celebrate the recovery of my hearing since my family could not be around to celebrate with me this life changing event,” Kutchin remarked. “Dr. Green wishes to do more.”

To read the full report written by Stephen Yaukubu Kutchin, please click here.

For information about Hearing Help for Africa, a non-profit organization with the goal of improving ear-related medical conditions for Africans by expanding medical education opportunities for African physicians, please click here.