LITTLE Chloe Lucas has heard her mum’s voice for the first time.
Two years after being born deaf, the Seaham toddler has been able to hear mum Ann Anderson say her name thanks to a cochlear implant.
It’s a huge leap forward for Chloe who was born with profound hearing loss in both ears.
Having surgery to install the electronic hearing implant has turned the youngster’s life around and it is hoped she will have 50 words in her vocabulary by July.
Mum Ann, 32, said: “She heard my voice for the first time just after her second birthday.
“She was watching TV and I called her name.
She actually turned around which was amazing. She had never done that before.
“She’s not speaking words as yet, but she’s vocalising a lot more and her tone has changed now she has the implant and can hear other people. You certainly know when she’s around.”
Often called a bionic ear, cochlear implants work differently to hearing aids in that, rather than amplifying sounds, the implant bypasses damaged portions of the ear to directly stimulate the auditory nerve.
The implant, which holds a microphone, speech processor and a transmitter, consists of an external portion that sits behind the ear and a second portion that is surgically placed under the skin.
Mum-of-two Ann was given the devastating news that her daughter would never hear on her own the day after Chloe was born when she underwent a new born hearing screening.
Ann, who is also mum to Callum, 12, said: “I was devastated but I was always determined to do the best for her.
“It has been hard, I would never say it’s easy. Chloe is coming up three in September and she can’t really speak yet, but hopefully by July - a year after her surgery - she will have 50 words in her vocabulary.
“She goes to Sure Start nursery in Seaham and the other day she said bye bye to the staff which was amazing. She is getting there.”
As well as receiving support from a specialist cochlear implant team, Ann says the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) have been a huge help.
To thank the charity, Chloe’s cousin Chantelle Mckellar, from Houghton, has pledged to raise £500 by organising a Conga for Chloe.
The 17 year-old beauty therapist will be dressing up and walking 14 miles to raise money to support deaf children and their families - and she’s asking others to join in the fund-raiser or pledge a donation.
“This is a real personal challenge for me” said Chantelle. “It will be hard work but I’m determined to raise as much money as possible for deaf children and their families.”
Niki Michael, NDCS Head of Corporate, Community and Events, explained: “Every day in the UK four babies are born deaf, and almost all are born to parents with little experience of deafness.
“NDCS is the leading charity dedicated to creating a world without barriers for deaf children and young people. Since NDCS is funded almost entirely through public donations, it is the commitment of people like Chantelle that makes our work possible.”
•Conga for Chloe takes place on July 2 from the Queen Vic, Roker, to South Shields fair. Half the money raised from the event will go to the NDCS charity for deaf children and their families and the other half will go to Chloe.
Anyone who is interested in taking part or sponsoring Chantelle can email: email@example.com.