Good Samaritan story changes 18-months-old’s life forever

Medical team enables implantation of cochlear hearing device

Wednesday, 20 November 2019, Brave 18-month-old Grayson Marais from Port Elizabeth experienced the world of sound for the very first time yesterday, thanks to the goodwill of a team of specialists, Netcare Greenacres Hospital, the Netcare Foundation and the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital.

This team recently joined hands to ensure that the pro bono cochlear implant procedure which was undertaken at the well-known Port Elizabeth private hospital by ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist, Dr Iain Butler with the assistance of anaesthetist, Dr Chris Ngaka.

“Grayson’s implantation procedure was completed successfully, and he was doing well when we removed his bandages and stitches at our first follow up consultation recently,” comments Dr Butler. “His cochlear device was turned on for the first time at Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital yesterday and we are hopeful that with the necessary speech and listening therapies, he will go on to hear and to be able to speak normally. My colleagues and I were thrilled to have been able to assist this delightful little boy, who always has a big smile on his face.”

Grayson’s mother, Antoinette Marais, adds: “My family and I are so grateful that my son was able to receive the great gift of this cochlear implantation, and we would like to convey our deepest appreciation to Dr Butler and his team for doing the procedure free of charge, as well as to the Netcare Foundation and Netcare Greenacres Hospital for covering all the theatre and other in-hospital costs of Grayson’s procedure and to the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital for covering the costs of the cochlear device.”

My family and I are also thankful to audiologist, Babalwa Potelwa at Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital who first detected Grayson’s hearing problem and who has been exceptionally supportive throughout,” she says.

Dr Butler explains that the external ‘microphone’ part of the cochlear device picks up signals from the environment, which the implant then sends directly to the auditory nerve in the ear and to the brain, which comes to recognise the signal as sound. In this way the complex cochlear implant technology is able to bypass the damaged areas of the ear.

Approximately three to six in 1 000 children are born with some form of hearing impairment, which is the most common of the sensory deficits occurring in newborns. Approximately one in 1 000 children are born with profound hearing impairment, such as was the case with Grayson. Dr Butler says cochlear implantation can provide a real solution for children born with profound deafness, but the device and supporting therapies are costly.

It is great for us to be able to team up with Netcare Greenacres Hospital and the Netcare Foundation on such initiatives that make a meaningful and long-term difference in the lives of children.”

“Corporate social responsibility is entrenched in our organisation. Throughout our Netcare operations, doctors and staff members have a deep commitment to assist in improving the quality of life for less privileged individuals and communities through many different outreach initiatives,” says Mande Toubkin, who heads up the corporate social investment (CSI) department in Netcare and is also a director of the Netcare Foundation.

 To find out more about the services offered through Netcare hospitals and other of the Group’s facilities, please contact Netcare’s customer service centre either by email at or phone 0860 NETCARE (0860 638 2273). Note that the centre operates Mondays to Fridays from 08:00 to 16:00.