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Katya is our first child. She was born in 2006 in Wellington before new born screening was introduced. Katya is a bubbly engaging girl. She was very attentive. We had no idea she was deaf until she was a little over 12 months. Then we started to suspect something. However she would turn when someone clapped (the standard test Plunket uses).

When she was 15 months we knew something was wrong. I managed to walk up behind her when I came home from work and drop a set of keys on a table behind her. No response. At 18 months we had confirmation with an ABR test that she was deaf.

We tried hearing aids briefly but they provided no benefit. We were referred to the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme and just prior to Katya’s second birthday she was implanted with two Cochlear brand implants. We were fortunate enough to have the support of our family and church family, as well as some of our own funds to get the second implant done at the same time. This saved a considerable amount of money and has given Katya effective hearing even in noisy environments like her school classroom and playground.

Katya’s right hand scar never really settled. About eight months after the surgery, despite attempts to kill the infection with anti-biotics, one of her implants had to be surgically cleaned. She then had a total of 16 weeks of antibiotics (10 weeks IV and 6 weeks oral). Thankfully this killed the infection.

We are now over three years post implantation. Katya is at school. She still needs support. We expect she will be support free by the time she is seven.

For my family, Katya’s Cochlear Implants mean she is able to interact with us, her friends and the world just as any other kid (with minor exceptions – like when swimming). That’s priceless!

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