It is fabulous to see communities rallying around families to fund second cochlear implants. It is easy to recognise that these little children need two ears to hear. Unfortunately many children are born into families or communities where the prospect of fundraising $50,000 is just beyond the realm of possible. This means 20-30 children a year are only receiving one cochlear implant when they should be getting two.

In New Zealand we traditionally have agreed that we have a social contract for the provision of health services for children. As a society we pay our taxes to ensure that those who are in need of help get it – regardless of the ability of the family and community they are born into. The funding of cochlear implants is a case where the government is in breach of its social contract.

Ironically, by breaching this agreement the government is costing us as taxpayers (shareholders in NZ Govt Inc) $400,000 over the first 18 years of a child’s life when for less than $84,000 a second implant could be provided and supported over that same time period. It is fantastic that this community has seen the foolishness of this current approach and stepped in to provide Noah two ears to hear.

An “absolutely incredible” community effort has resulted in $62,500 being raised for 10-month-old Timaru boy Noah Valentine’s cochlear implants.

It’s $12,500 more than the family needed, and that extra money will go back to the community groups who donated it, so someone else may benefit.

“The Lions said it was the first time money donated has ever been given back,” mother Sara Valentine said.

The target sum was reached in only 31 days.

“We knew we’d get there, but to have it happen in that space of time was pretty overwhelming. It hasn’t hit home yet,” father Matt Valentine said.

The Valentines said they had a very happy Christmas, safe in the knowledge that they had the funds for Noah’s double-cochlear implant operation.

“It was a relief – in a good way. If you believe something is going to happen, it does,” Mrs Valentine said.

The bulk of the funding came from a multitude of individual donations, which the Valentines believe is testament to “incredible community spirit”.

“When I was banking cheques, the woman at the bank said it restores your faith in humanity, and that’s a really good way to put it. Sometimes people think that sense of community is lost until something like this happens; then people get behind you and pull together,” Mrs Valentine said.

The Looking production by the Geraldine Players raised $8500, and auctions, a family photo day and other ventures, combined with $20,000 from the givealittle website, meant the funds were raised. New Zealand is the last country in the First World where the Government funds only one cochlear implant.

Noah will have his operation on January 23, and the implants will be turned on on Valentine’s Day.

In recognition of the community effort, the Valentines are planning on filming Noah when he hears for the first time.

“People have done some really lovely things, and we’re just so thankful.

“So many people have been supporting us, we think it’s important to share it and let other people be part of it. It’s only right to let them see the story through,” Mrs Valentine said.

[Article from stuff.co.nz – http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/9568028/Noahs-implants-make-for-a-wonderful-Christmas]

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