At last, a world you can hear

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 29/03/2014
Noah Valentine
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/F
SOUNDS GOOD: Noah Valentine can now hear after receiving cochlear implants in February. He had the implants turned on six weeks ago.

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Noah Valentine is all smiles as his world is finally filled with sound.

Moo, meow and mum are among the words and sounds that have been added to his vocabulary since having his cochlear implants turned on six weeks ago.

The 13-month-old's double-cochlear operation was made possible this year after the community raised $62,500, which was $12,500 more than his family needed. The extra money will go back to the community groups which donated it, so someone else can benefit.

His mother, Sara, said Noah had responded well to the transition and had progressed quicker than experts had expected.

"He's well within range of hearing normally. It's just a matter of him getting used to the sounds now and what they mean."

However, not all sounds have resulted in a beaming smile from the youngster.

"One thing that frightened him in the first couple of weeks - he went to touch a hot pan and I made a noise [to deter him] and he got a fright," Mrs Valentine said.

Noah now has regular checkups, but will skip the next one due to his impressive success rate at the last, she said.

He will also receive regular tuning.

"Nothing phases him. He's quite cruisy and content.

"He's just accepted sound is another thing," she said of his transition.

Noah's cochlear implants were received through the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme, which is this week celebrating Hearing Week.

Cochlear implants are designed to help severe to profoundly deaf people who gain little or no benefit from hearing aids.

The implants transform speech and other sounds into electrical energy, which stimulates auditory nerve fibres in the inner ear.

The number of profoundly deaf people receiving the implants is at an all-time high, with 596 registered with the programme, compared with 70 in 2003.

Southern Cochlear Implant Programme general manager Neil Heslop said that increase does not mean there had been a deterioration in hearing health.

Instead, it reflected growing awareness of the technology available.

The Government funds the cost of an implant for one ear.

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- The Timaru Herald

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