Mum pleads for hearing implant funding

EarA NORTHSIDE mother is pleading for funding to help her daughter regain full hearing.

Danielle Ryan, from Belmayne, is calling on the HSE to provide funding for bilateral cochlear implants, a treatment recommended and carried out in most other countries.

Danielle’s three-year-old daughter Ellie lost her hearing two years ago but was offered a lifeline through a cochlear implant she received late last year. However, having just one cochlear implant means she only has hearing in one ear and she needs a second one to hear normally. In many other countries a bilateral cochlear implant is carried out meaning full hearing is restored or provided in one operation. “As a result of having hearing in only one ear, Ellie can’t tell which direction sounds are coming from which can be very disorientating, confusing and dangerous,” Danielle told Northside People. “She finds it extremely hard to listen because she has to concentrate so much which is very tiring for her.

“It’s a very frustrating situation, especially considering the technology is there to do a bilateral cochlear implant surgery which is considered best practice. We just need the funding.” Ellie Ryan’s development is naturally behind in comparison to that of a three-year-old with full hearing. However, her situation is slightly better than other children with just one cochlear implant as she could hear until she was one-year-old. “Unlike the other kids on the programme who were born profoundly deaf, Ellie didn’t have to learn how to listen,” Danielle explained. “She’s coming on but she needs speech therapy because speech is so intrinsically linked to hearing. “Naturally as a parent I want to be able to give my child the best chance in life which just won’t happen with hearing in one ear. “We don’t have any control or choices. Even if we could afford to pay for another implant or go privately, the operation isn’t even carried out in Ireland. “If we went to England and paid for the other implant it would mean that all Ellie’s aftercare would be there and we’d have to go through another process of speech therapy and supports.” Time is running out for children like Ellie, as the nerves in her second ear will start to deteriorate and die after the age of four. Danielle and other parents of children from the cochlear implant unit have started a campaign called ‘Happy New Ear’, which aims to tackle the funding problem. The group handed in a letter to Beaumont Hospital last week calling for funding to be provided.

Currently, the HSE only provides funding for one implantation despite a recommendation from Beaumont Hospital, which provides the national cochlear implant programme for children and adults, that it is best practice to perform bilateral implants. Beaumont Hospital received funding of €3 million for the cochlear implant programme in 2012. The cost of a single implant is between €18,000 and €20,000. During last year 48 adults and 44 children received implants and ongoing rehabilitation. A spokesperson for the hospital said that while it is not funded for bilateral implants, it recognises and supports the case that it is “best practice to perform simultaneous bilateral implants, and second implants for those children who have already received one”. “The hospital has been in ongoing contact with the HSE since 2009 regarding the funding necessary for the bilateral service and submitted a business case for that funding in October 2012,” the spokesperson told Northside People. “It is essential and urgent to commence simultaneous cochlear implantation in children at the earliest date and to address the backlog requirement for sequential implantation of those children who have previously been implanted with a single implant. “Beaumont was advised earlier this month that no funds would be forthcoming for same in 2013. “While recognising the challenges to securing extra funding, Beaumont will continue to advocate for bilateral implantation.” A spokesperson for the HSE said it made funding available for wider audiology services in 2013. “This funding allocation is to allow the completion of the rollout of the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening programme and the Bone Anchored Hearing Aid programme,” the spokesperson stated.

Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.

Source: Dublin People – Read More 

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