Madeline gets used to hearing

HEARING: Invercargill preschooler Madeline Collard had surgery two weeks ago to insert cochlear implants, helping her hear again.
HEARING: Invercargill preschooler Madeline Collard had surgery two weeks ago to insert cochlear implants, helping her hear again.

An online campaign raising funds for Madeline Collard has attracted international attention, two weeks after the Invercargill preschooler's life-changing operation.

Two-year-old Madeline, who was profoundly deaf, received a government-funded cochlear implant this month to help her hear.

However, the Collard family is still trying to find about $20,000 to pay for a second implant, inserted at the same time as the government-funded one.

To help the family, Christchurch woman Malena Penney has volunteered to donate proceeds from dress-up tutus sold on her Facebook page, "Tutus for Hannah", to Madeline's cause.

Ms Penney said the campaign had already engaged a worldwide audience.

She had taken tutu orders from Canada, United States and Australia, and had people from Spain and South America interested in the cause, she said.

"I guess it's going global."

Ms Penney said she started making the skirts for Auckland toddler Hannah Simpson last year, who also needed a second cochlear implant.

When Hannah's family had

raised enough to fund her implant, Ms Penney decided to use her tutus to help somebody else, choosing Madeline after being pointed to an article about her operation.

Ten dollars from every tutu would be given to Madeline, with the rest covering the cost of the materials, she said.

Madeline's mum, Vicky, said it was generous of Ms Penney to donate the profits to Madeline, and the 2-year-old had made a lot of progress since audiologists switched on her bionic ears on January 10. Initially worried about the impact noise around the house would have on her daughter, Mrs Collard said she kept the radio on a low volume for the first few days after the operation.

The implant's volume would be increased in stages during the next three months so Madeline could get used to hearing and responding to the world around her.

Madeline had been upset hearing the cries of her 18-month-old sister, and the first time Madeline played outside on a windy day, she kept looking around to see where the wind noise was coming from, she said.

To keep her bright green earpieces in place while she played, Madeline wore headbands, something her 6-year-old brother had questioned, Mrs Collard said.

"Thomas said: ‘Is she going to have all that stuff for the rest of her life?' I said: ‘Yeah, honey, she is. But she will be able to hear us.' "

Madeline will head back to Christchurch on Monday to meet with an audiologist, a journey that will be repeated several times during the next few years.

"She's got a lot ahead of her [but] she's a resilient wee girl."

The Southland Times