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Vital ear surgeries for Aboriginal children recommence after COVID pause

A ground-breaking partnership between St John of God Murdoch Hospital, the Telethon Kids Institute, Dr George Sim and has recommenced after COVID-19 restrictions to offer essential surgery at no cost for Aboriginal children suffering severe ear problems.

Djaalinj Waakinj

Due to COVID-19 and the State Government restrictions on elective surgery, important procedures for otitis media (OM), also known as middle ear infection or ‘glue ear’ were delayed for several months.

Paediatric Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon Dr George Sim is the surgeon providing the surgeries and said he was delighted to recommence this month, starting with two youngsters, Ollie and Richard (pictured).

In a special partnership with St John of God Murdoch Hospital, Dr Sim operates on children identified through the Telethon Kids Institute’s Urban Aboriginal Ear Health program. The project is named Djaalinj Waakinj or 'listening and hearing' in Noongar language.

St John of God Murdoch Hospital has chosen to support the program as their ‘Charity of the Year’ where hospital caregivers select and support a health-based community initiative.

Prior to elective surgery halting due to COVID-19, Dr Sim had operated on several young patients as part of the program.

He said the difference this surgery could make for young children was astounding.

“It is especially important for young ones laying down their speech and language pathways. Normal hearing levels are essential at this stage of development, so I am grateful this partnership will allow me to operate in a very short time scale and improve their hearing levels when kids need it most,” said Dr Sim.

“It is wonderful to recommence the program and make a big difference to little lives.”

Approximately half of all Aboriginal children are affected by OM and wait times in the public sector can be up to two-and-a-half years.

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