Prof. Henryk Skarżyński discussed various aspects of his professional passion and life’s mission to help others to restore their hearing. In Poland, hearing disorders affect 1 to 2% of infants, about 20% of school-age children and 75% of 70-year-olds. Everyday communication, first or second language acquisition, learning, working – all those activities depend on the function of the hearing organ and the ability of the brain to select meaningful inputs from the flood of sounds. Professor Skarżyński briefly presented stories of his patients ranging from young children to seniors, who rediscovered the joy of life thanks to various operations and implants, began to speak languages, became lecturers and virtuosos. As he has been awarded and honored dozens of times and was considered one of the most influential people in the Polish medicine, he would speak with detachment and humor about the jealousy of his colleagues and Polish envy. It led to strict supervision of his activities. He opted for an early diagnosis and surgery in children with total hearing loss to enable them further normal development. As the President of the 32nd Politzer Society Meeting and of the 2nd World Congress of Otology, he was glad that, in a month, the World Otology Congress would take place in Warsaw. It is a little known fact that Prof. Skarżyński and his patients set the world record twice with the number of patients who met after restoring hearing by implanted electrodes to their skull or brainstem in 2012 and 2017 respectively. He also mentioned that deaf people from Spain, Italy and Poland played musical instruments in the European Parliament in 2018 to show the value of investing in technology, as the saying goes: I hear – I see – I say.
Prof. Skarżyński started a scientific and clinical cooperation with the Provincial Joint Hospital in Łomża as soon as early 1990s, when he gave his professional support during opening of the Audiology Clinic with an audiological diagnostic laboratory.
It is worth mentioning that Prof. Henryk Skarżyński is proud of his roots. He often stresses out that coming from a small town does not prevent worldwide success. By applying his knowledge and expertise, he supports the inhabitants of Podlasie, where he started hearing screening programs for children and adolescents in early 1990s. Those included the screening of hearing and voice in 7-year-olds from rural areas and small towns of the Eastern Poland, in cooperation with the Agricultural Social Insurance Funds and the Association of the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing “Man to Man”; and the hearing screening program for primary school children of farmers living in rural areas. Those programs included, in total, tens of thousands of children and adolescents. At the turn of the century, he initiated hearing screening on a population of over ten thousand adults from Podlasie, Mazovia and Silesia. Prof. Skarżyński does not forget about the elderly. The Mobile Hearing Centers, which have been traveling all over Poland for four years, always visit towns in Podlasie. As part of the multispecialty year-round program for civilization disease prevention and health support for Poles ‘Health First’, hearing screening and specialty consultations were held in towns such as Łomża, Augustów, Siemiatycze and Grajewo.
By cooperating with the Otolaryngology Department of the Medical University of Bialystok, Prof. Skarżyński supported therapeutic programs for deaf people in Podlasie. This resulted in the very first, in that region, implantation of the cochlear implant performed by Prof. Henryk Skarżyński and his team at the Otolaryngology Department, Medical University of Bialystok; it also led to founding the very first Tinnitus Clinic in Poland.
At the discretion of Prof. Skarżyński, the University Hospital in Bialystok has been one of 25 centers of the world’s first Teleaudiology National Network for over ten years, which has been founded in response to patients living far from the center who underwent surgery for hearing loss.
For those and many other activities in the field of local patriotism, Prof. Skarżyński was awarded the title of the ‘Successful Man of 2006’ for Podlaskie Voivodeship – the title awarded by ‘Contacts’ magazine and the School of Agribusiness in Łomża. He was also granted the honorary citizenship of the Town and Commune of Czyżew.
Prof. Skarżyński’s achievements and merits for Podlasie have been reported by media many times such as TVP Białystok, Polskie Radio Białystok, Kurier Poranny, Gazeta Współczesna and podlasie24.pl.