'Two working ears' joy for girl

By kelli.hooks@age.co.nz, Kelli Hooks

Emily Robinson can now hear just like any other little girl, just in time for her second birthday.

Little Emily was born with a rare ear condition, common cavity, and was found to be profoundly deaf after a routine screening at Wairarapa Hospital.

She had her first cochlear implant last year, and her second was turned on this month.

Her mother, Corina Lawson said Emily was also probably the world's most successful case of common cavity in the world, as the success of cochlear implants for children with her condition is extremely rare.

"They pretty much gave her a 30 per cent chance of developing any speech and language and she is talking and singing ... they said that they will be writing about her in medical journals.

"Her case study will inspire families around the world to implant these kids," Ms Lawson said.

Emily was also born with a hole in her heart and needed open-heart surgery last year.

"It's been a long hard road with Emily, she's had open heart surgery and then we found out she had this rare ear condition," Ms Lawson said.

Cochlear implants cost $50,000, the first is funded by the government but it is up to parents to pay for an additional one.

With only one implant children are unable to tell what direction sound is coming from.

Emily has just had a second cochlear implant in February and turned on this month after a massive fundraising effort by her parents.

"We've been really lucky we were originally faced with a $50,000 bill for the second one.

"We've done a huge amount of fundraising, we formed a fundraising committee back in September and in six months we've been able to raise almost all of the money," she said.

The family have been well supported by the Martinborough community and St Andrew's Church put on a fundraising dinner which raised nearly $8000 for Emily.

"Most of the money has been raised by people in the Wairarapa, we wouldn't be where we are without all that local support," Ms Lawson said. She can now call out to Emily and she responds, something she says she will never tire of.

"We've never really treated her like she's different but just knowing that she's a little bit more like every other child and she's going to have the same opportunities as them."

Emily's parents will face an ongoing cost as the implants need upgrading every seven years but Ms Lawson is just glad she now has two working ears.

"To have a child with two working ears is some kind of sense of normality."

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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