Deaf girl hears for the first time after implantsBy Jonathan Low
October 17, 2012
A musical family whose daughter was born with profound deafness said cochlear implants which enabled her to hear were ‘a godsend’.
Clodagh Farrell, of Woodcock Chase in Bracknell, was diagnosed with a genetic condition called Connexin 26 when she was just four weeks old.
But the youngster’s world was transformed when she was fitted with cochlear implants and her family is encouraging other parents with deaf children to consider implants.
The condition was picked up by a pilot newborn hearing screening programme run by East Berkshire Primary Care Trust (now NHS Berkshire).
Her mum Jennifer said: “I was horrified – it was the worst news ever.
“I come from a family of linguist musicians.
“I used to perform in choirs and play the flute, my brother Eamonn O’Dwyer recently starred as The Songman in War Horse in the West End and my sister’s husband plays music for a living.
“The thought that our daughter might not be able to hear music was more than devastating.”
Dad Alex, added: “No-one in our family was hard of hearing.
“The deaf world was out of our comfort zone.”
The Farrells had so many people feeding them information, but Jennifer added: “All we could hear was that Clodagh was deaf – so deaf, that if you put her next to a jet aircraft she wouldn’t be able to hear it.”
Clodagh, now eight, was fitted with a hearing aid at three months old, but after that didn’t help, her consultant suggested trying cochlear implants.
Cochlear implants are electronic devices for both adults and children who do not receive adequate benefit from conventional hearing aids.
Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants bypass the damaged hair cells in the inner ear and stimulate the hearing nerve directly.
Clodagh had one fitted when she was 13 months old and received a second in July 2009 when the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) re-evaluated their guidelines and decided children would be eligible for two implants on the NHS.
Alex added: “Clodagh was having no benefit with hearing aids so she had the first implant which was better, but then the option of a second was a real Godsend.”
The implants mean Clodagh can attend mainstream school, she has also picked up her family’s musical interests and has recently taken up the drums.
Jennifer wanted to warn those in similar situation to think about the consequences of not having an implant.
She said: “The risks are much higher that you will have a very frustrated child and family.
“I want other patients to take the leap sooner rather than later.”