Ella's world opens up
The first time Ella Gavin heard the world, she turned her head towards the sound.
Ella's mother Shai Ropiha said that usually it takes years for a deaf person to learn to turn towards sound.
But the spunky one-year-old Normanby child has taken to her new ears like a duck to water.
Ella has been deaf since birth and had her cochlear implants inserted last month. "Switched on" on August 13, the doors to a world full of sound have opened for Ella.
Her response has been exciting.
Ropiha said it was confirmation that the young family had made the right decision for their youngest member.
"They played a little tambourine," she said.
"Usually they don't turn to the sound, it takes even adults years to do that.
"So she wanted more of that."
Ella was one of the first children in the country to receive two fully-funded cochlear implants under a new government funding scheme.
Previously, deaf children received one government funded implant but families would have to raise around $40,000 to pay for the second one.
The Taranaki Star brought Ella's silent plight to the community in April and the community responded, opening their hearts and wallets to the family.
Ella's family had successfully raised more than $30,000 when they found out Ella's operation would be fully funded.
Overwhelming support has encouraged the family to keep the money and use it to fund their yearly trips to Christchurch for Ella's follow-up medical care.
But, barring a major failure in her "magic ears", Ella should never need another operation for her hearing.
Already, the benefits of the implants have become immeasurable for the family. Previously watching the world go by, Ella has started to become active.
Ropiha said that not only was she now using several basic sign language gestures but she was now clapping, babbling and working towards crawling.
She said because Ella's devices were quite obvious, her family were becoming used to the curious looks she received while out and about.
Community support has been so great that the family wanted to give a message back.
She said they often found themselves the subject of curious stares.
"If you see Ella please come over and say hello, I'm happy to answer questions and show others her ‘magic ears'."
Ella is pretty easy to spot, she has three multicoloured headbands that her earpieces are fitted to and is usually wearing one.
The family will make several trips to Christchurch this year to have Ella's hearing fine-tuned. After that, Ella will visit once a year for the rest of her life.