Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Jurnee's operation a success

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Jurnee McCaskill is excited to be starting intermediate next year, and will be able to hear through both of her ears. Photo/Andrew Warner
Jurnee McCaskill is excited to be starting intermediate next year, and will be able to hear through both of her ears. Photo/Andrew Warner

Jurnee McCaskill will soon be able to hear through both ears for the first time in her life.

The 9-year-old had a cochlear implant put in behind her right ear two weeks ago and will have it turned on for the first time next Monday.

Dressed in a pink jumper, and wearing a huge smile, she opened the door to her Lakes home and instantly showed me where doctors put in the implant behind her right ear.

"They fixed my ear," she said.

Jurnee was born profoundly deaf and has lived nearly her whole life in silence.

When she was a baby she had a cochlear implant put in her left ear, but she was never encouraged to wear the processor, the external part of the implant which actually enables a person to hear.

Her right ear was never done.

Since the beginning of the year her foster mum, Esther Atkins, has been campaigning to raise enough money to get her an implant for her right ear.

The family raised more than $40,000 for Jurnee's operation, implant and processor.

In late September the Atkins family took Jurnee to Auckland for her operation.

"She was a real trooper through the whole thing," Mrs Atkins said.

Jurnee McCaskill, 9, has had her cochlear implant put in her right ear. Photo/Andrew Warner
Jurnee McCaskill, 9, has had her cochlear implant put in her right ear. Photo/Andrew Warner

"She got really nervous when they gassed her, but she knew she had to do it and she wanted to do it."

The two-and-a-half hour operation on September 21 was a success and the family will venture to Auckland again next week to have the processor put on the new implant for the first time.

Over the next six months, they will make several trips to Auckland to have the processor slowly turned up and adjusted for Jurnee to start hearing.

Mrs Atkins said the family would like to say a massive thank you to all the people who helped fundraise.

"Jurnee will have the whole of Year 5 and 6 to get used to the new processor and hear properly before she hits intermediate.

"Which means she will be able to go into class, hear the teacher and those around her properly and catch up properly at school. She is extremely smart and given the right tools she will excel in anything she does.

"I feel like what ever she is going to do, she is going to do it well."

Jack Atkins, Jurnee McCaskill, Esther Aktins and Molly Atkins. Photo/Andrew Warner
Jack Atkins, Jurnee McCaskill, Esther Aktins and Molly Atkins. Photo/Andrew Warner

The cochlear implant:

William Fouts House was an American otologist, physician and medical researcher who developed and invented the cochlear implant. House's first design for a cochlear implant was surgically implanted in 1961, but the implant was rejected by the patient's body. A longer lasting model was developed and successfully implanted in 1969, and it was introduced commercially in 1972.

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