Girl can now hear after UAE government pays Dh400,000 for cochlear implants

The Ministry of Health approved the second payment after watching a video shared by Dubai's Expo team

Dominique Villafuerte says her daughter can live a normal life after the Ministry of Health and Prevention paid for her cochlear implants. Photo: Expo 2020 Dubai
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A girl now leads a normal life after the UAE government stepped in to pay Dh400,000 for her cochlear implants, electronic devices that improve hearing.

Michelle Grace's mother, Dominique Villafuerte, shared her heartwarming story on Expo 2020 Dubai's Twitter feed and explained how the government's donation turned their life around when there was little hope.

“Prior to joining the Expo in 2017, we learned that our daughter was deaf and needed cochlear implants," Ms Villafuerte said.

"Coincidentally that year was the Year of Giving, and the Ministry of Health had a 'Help Me Hear initiative'.

"We were fortunate enough to be given the chance to have our daughter’s cochlear implant for her right ear free of cost, courtesy of the UAE Government."

But the child could hear only from the right ear.

Expo 2020 Dubai | Meet the team

After discovering that her baby daughter was severely deaf, Dominique Villafuerte received a life-changing gift from the UAE Government. Now part of the #Expo2020 workforce, comprising 67 nationalities, Dominique is giving back to the country that helped her family. #MeetTheTeam

Posted by Expo 2020 Dubai on Thursday, June 13, 2019

Ms Villafuerte said she started working for the Expo in 2018 and during one of the national day celebrations for the staff, she shared her daughter's story with her colleagues and the Expo team.

"A member of the communications team remembered that story in 2019 and wanted to do a quick video relating to this," she said.

"I then shared this video with Dr Eman AlHouli from Al Qassimi hospital in Sharjah, who did the [first] surgery and she asked why we did not do the surgery for the other ear.

"Each surgery costs around Dh200,000 so we didn’t do the other ear because we didn’t have that kind of money just lying around. So, Dr Eman asked us to come and meet her in her clinic.

"We did and when we sat down, she said the other surgery has been approved by the Ministry of Health. No questions asked and all this just after sharing that link with her.

"I’d like to think that the reason why our daughter got her other surgery is because of Expo’s video."

Ms Villafuerte said her daughter had her second surgery in December 2019 and she has been hearing from both ears ever since.

"We are forever grateful to Expo. One of the lessons Expo has taught me is that no matter how bad your situation would be, there are always good people in this world who will help you one way or another - so we shouldn’t lose hope at all," she said.

Updated: July 23, 2022, 7:58 AM