Story #116: Ali Daiub Helps Ukraine's Defenders Hear Again

September 29, 2023
Ali Daiub is an otorhinolaryngologist who restores hearing of seriously injured Ukrainian heroes.

Otorhinolaryngologist Ali Daiub has been restoring hearing to injured Ukrainian military personnel since Russia invaded Ukraine full-scale. He has become friends with many of them, but it was a long road towards gaining their trust...

"On the day of their hospitalization, some of the troops were sad, terribly sad, and refused to talk. But when they had recovered and been discharged, I saw their huge smiles, their gratitude, with the entourage of their families. It all was very nourishing. When I see not only the bad but also the results, it's wonderful," says Ali.

Now, Ali combines work in one of the military units of Odesa with his work at the 'Virtus' Institute of Advanced Medicine. In both locations, he provides medical care to traumatized military personnel. Over 2,000 of them have gone through healing process with Ali in just one year. 

Some soldiers become closed off if they don't instantly like you, which makes it difficult to reach them, so we involve specialists to build communication. Sometimes, for example, we should avoid delving into their wartime experiences, as it can affect their willingness to open up.

For Ali, it is often necessary to know what exactly happened to a patient to begin treatment. In general, these scenarios mark a recent war-reality-related change in many specialists' approaches: the need to combine direct duties with psychological tactics.

Another thing the war has changed is the number of people suffering from relatively uncommon conditions -- mine-explosive injury or ear acubarotrauma. Ali says that these injuries are almost impossible in peaceful times.

Although this field of medicine has advanced to the point where the aforementioned injuries are mostly curable, a small percentage of warriors remain deaf. Moreover, some prefer to live deaf instead of installing the implant and hearing at least somehow.

"Living with an implant is mentally very difficult. The sound is perceived differently, it's more mechanical, only approximately similar to what we used to hear."

These implants are typically installed in new-born children who adapt to them through their course of life.

For adults, their usage causes an unpleasant dissonance as they have been living with another version of sound for the eintire life.

"My colleagues, psychologists, and psychiatrists and I always remain in touch. We usually hold lenthy conversations about our patients."

Talking about the lost or reduced hearing of servicemen, we only touch upon one of the many things they have faced. Ali says, the injured also frequently arrive at him with horrific large burns, lacerations, breathing difficulties, etc.

One such seriously wounded soldier's story is engraved in the heart of Ali forever.

There was one 20-year-old who arrived to us. Half of his body didn't work; and he had numerous neurological issues, as well as severe burns. When I came to him, he told me, 'Doctor, don't worry about me, I'm still lucky,' which took my breath away. I realized then how strong he was, especially given his age.

For some servicemen, an explosion will always be the last thing they have heard. An ability, a necessity to hear, taken away by the war, may be the only deprivation or one of many.

Still, Having witnessed so many different cases of successful recovery, Ali encourages everyone not to give up and find strength to trust doctors. 'We want to help, not harm,' he adds in conclusion.

Yelyzaveta Dzhulai
Journalist at UkraineWorld