LOS ANGELES, Calif. — In October 2021, Armenian International Medical Fund (AIM Fund) completed its 22nd medical mission to Armenia. Akira Ishiyama, MD, surgeon and professor in the Division of Head and Neck Surgery, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, and Salpy Akaragian, PhD, RN, director emeritus at UCLA Health, gave the gift of hearing to children and young adults in Armenia for the second time in 2021. The trip was partially funded by UCLA’s Operation Armenia, which operates under the umbrella of the Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA and is implemented thanks to the generosity, advocacy, and support of UCLA Health.
During this mission, 10 children received cochlear implants and began hearing for the first time. One adult’s hearing was also restored through the same procedure. Moreover, AIM Fund operated on two soldiers from the recent war in Artsakh and one adult with complicated inner ear problems. Furthermore, Dr. Ishiyama consulted on several patients with different hearing problems.
The 10-month-old Razmik was implanted during the October medical mission. He is the youngest cochlear implant recipient in Armenia. “Words alone are not enough to express my gratitude to Drs. Ishiyama and Akaragian,” said his mother Marine Gevorgyan, “Thanks to them, my Razmik can now hear the world. They are kind people who volunteer their time and are extremely attentive to every child. I’m grateful to the AIM Fund for their financial support. We are a fortunate nation that God has sent such people to grant hearing to our children.”
In 2021, AIM Fund completed two medical missions and marked another milestone by implanting 24 children and young adults in one year. “We are extremely fortunate to be able to complete two missions in one year. This is all thanks to our donors who believe in our mission and continue to support our work, and of course to Dr. Ishiyama who, year after year, continues to volunteer his time and efforts to help the children and young adults of Armenia,” said Akaragian, founder and president of the AIM Fund.
Since 2004, through their ongoing dedication and commitment, over 150 children and young adults have joined the hearing world through cochlear implant (CI) surgery. In addition to the CI surgeries, Dr. Ishiyama has also performed Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) surgeries on four adolescents. Furthermore, AIM Fund ensures proper follow-up and provides the necessary speech processor accessories and programming to over 180 children and adults with CI or BAHA.
The AIM Fund was formed in May of 2003 as a non-profit organization. Its mission is to create and maintain innovative healthcare programs in Armenia. The objectives of the cochlear implant program are to consult on newborn hearing screening, perform BAHA and Cochlear implant surgeries, train future young otologists in Armenia, consult on complex ear surgeries, and ensure the quality of otology service in Armenia.
AIM Fund is grateful for the support from the office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the Japanese Embassy in Armenia, the Erebouni Medical Center, and supporters around the globe.