A TODDLER has heard the sound of her parents’ voices for the very first time.
Little Amelie Ring, who has been deaf for the first 20 months of her life, had ear implants switched on for the first time yesterday after life-changing surgery.
Her mother Vicky, who celebrated her own birthday on Tuesday, said it was the best present she could have wished for.
Amelie, of Ffynnongroyw, Flintshire, underwent surgery at the end of last month to have bilateral cochlear electronic implants inserted, which provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf.
It was the second attempt to have them put in place – after tragedy struck first time round.
In December Amelie stopped breathing after receiving an anaesthetic ahead of an operation to help her hear and surgeons had to abandon plans to continue.
The implants were finally fitted three weeks ago and on Thursday the family’s agonising three-week wait to see how the tot would react to hearing noise ended in joy.
Speaking to the Leader yesterday, moments after the implants were activated at Manchester University, Vicky described a mix of emotions, saying it was “strange” Amelie could now hear, adding it was “amazing”.
“She was quite happy when they switched them on and she reacted really well,” said Vicky, 31. “She was smiling.
“It’s just fantastic – the fact that she’s going to be able to hear our voices, watch TV and understand programmes.”
Vicky was in the room with her husband Robin, 41, when the implants were switched on.
She added: “Having your child hear for the first time is the best birthday present ever.”
Previously Vicky, who also has a six-month-old son, Louis, said this was a day the family thought they might never have seen.
Now the implants are activated, Amelie can hear a whisper sound, and as the weeks go by the sound will be altered, gradually getting louder.
The couple will also have to take their daughter for regular speech and language therapy.
Amelie, who was born profoundly deaf when she arrived premature after 28 weeks, suffered a major loss of blood while inside Vicky, resulting in her having nine blood transfusions and spending her first 102 days in Glan Clwyd Hospital.
The toddler has also undergone a heart operation during her short life.
The family are looking forward to a brighter future now the implants have been activated.
Last month the type of cochlear implants now working in Amelie’s ears were thrust into the spotlight when 40-year-old Joanne Milne’s emotional response to hearing her first sounds hit the national headlines.
Her reaction, and now the success of Flintshire tot Amelie’s implants, has reinforced the technological triumph of cochlear implants.