This week Lucy will have both her ears turned on. She joins a growing group of kids in Wellington with two ears.
Lucy previously had a single Cochlear Implant. Her implant was a Cochlear brand implant that has had a high fail rate due to a manufacturing defect. Her family decided to that if Lucy was going to have to go through surgery again, they might as well take the plunge and do both ears. Lucy’s non-implanted ear has fluctuated in its usefulness over the years.
Lucy’s story illustrates one of the great benefits of having two ears. If there is a problem with an implant, having two ears gives a backup while the implant is fixed. For some families NZSL maybe fine alternative for communication within the family in the event of an implant failure. However a second implant allows communication with non-NZSL ‘speakers’ – like teachers, doctors, shopkeepers, classmates, friends – to continue with only minimal disruption.
Having the backup of a second ear is a powerful argument for the government to take the step to fund a full bilateral implant system for all new children receiving Cochlear Implants. Half a system is not meeting the needs of the small number of New Zealand children who need this life changing technology.