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Government boost cochlear funding

JESS LEE
Last updated 05:00 09/05/2014
Cochlear implant
Chris Skelton
MORE FUNDING: Children under six years with profound hearing loss will now receive two funded cochlear implants.
Dylan Vaughan
Lauren Priestley
HUGE IMPACT: Born profoundly deaf, Dylan Vaughan can now hear thanks to two cochlear implants.

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Relieved mum Jo Vaughan is thrilled more children with hearing problems will have access to the same procedure that helped her son.

The Government will pay for children under six years with profound hearing loss to receive two cochlear implants from July.

It previously paid for just one per child.

Vaughan's 4-year-old son Dylan Vaughan was born profoundly deaf and received his first cochlear implant, funded by the health system, in June 2011.

Vaughan and husband Neil had to raise more than $50,000 for a second implant and Dylan had the operation in September 2012.

The implants have made a huge difference to their son, Jo Vaughan says.

"His speech and development has improved so much. He can hear noises better now with two implants and pick up on where noises are coming from in the room."

She says the latest funding decision will take a huge pressure away from parents.

"Parents will now be able to concentrate on their children and helping them reach milestones rather than having the same pressure of fundraising that we did."

Families like the Auckland-based Vaughans who privately funded a second implant for their child will still benefit from free follow-up services, such as repairs, replacement speech processors and spare batteries, Health Minister tony Ryall says.

An extra $6.3 million is to be spent over four years on the bilateral cochlear implants programme for children.

International evidence suggests a second implant is less effective and less tolerated by older children who have used a single implant for a long period, the Health Ministry says.

A one-off $1.1 million funding boost is also hoped to reduce the waiting list for adults requiring the procedure. About 86 people receive cochlear implants each year, which includes up to 16 infants, 30 children aged from two to 18 years and 40 adults.

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- East And Bays Courier

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