DUNDALK parents have launched a national campaign calling for double cochlear implants for deaf children.
Little Billy Cairns (4) and Erin McShane (2) were both born profoundly deaf. Having received a cochlear implant in one ear, each has begun to hear sounds for the first time.
Now their mums, Deanna from Bay Estate and Denise from Philip Street, are calling for change to allow them receive double implants.
'If there were an operation for a blind person to fix his eyes, would they only operate on one eye?' asked Billy's mum, Deanna. FOR LITTLE Billy Cairns, the world is made up of strange distorted sounds that he struggles to hear.
Billy (4) was born profoundly deaf, but thanks to the implantation of a cochlear implant in his left ear, he has some, albeit limited, hearing.
Now, his mum Deanna has joined a campaign of Dundalk mothers who are calling for deaf children in Ireland to receive double cochlear implants, as they would in the UK and other European countries.
Deanna, from Bay Estate, told of Billy's difficult journey in the first few years of his life.
'Billy was born profoundly deaf. But we didn't know he was profoundly deaf until he was 17 months,' said Deanna, who recalled the delay in his diagnosis.
'When Billy was 10 months he was seen by the ENT in Temple Street, but with all the waiting lists it took time to see a paediatric audiologist, who then had to wait another nine weeks to put him under general anaesthetic to diagnose him'
Deanna welcomed the roll out of newborn screening, adding 'At least now other parents will know sooner than we did. Billy did try hearing aids but could not access any sound at all with them.'
She recalls the emotional day her son received his first implant, and began to hear simple sounds.
'When Billy was switched on he cried, and it was such a great feeling to know our child finally heard something.'
Despite their initial joy, Deanna and her family could not believe that Billy would only receive an implant in one ear.
'In the USA and the UK they implant both ears, and studies will show a child who is implanted with two are equal to all their peers.
'If there was a operation for a blind person to fix their eyes, would they only operate on one eye?' asked Deanna.
'It is very hard for Billy and for any other child who only has one implant to concentrate, they get tired easier.
' They cannot locate where the sounds are coming from, and if there is any background noise at all they can't hear.'
' The earlier Billy is implanted with the second cochlear the better, as if the nerve is not stimulated it won't work.'
Deanna will join a group of parents from around the country marching to Beaumont Hospital tomorrow (Thursday) to hand in a letter of appeal to the hospital asking for double cochlear implants for children.
'We are asking for the these children to be allowed the chance to reach their full potential and hopefully they can then go to mainstream school and lead a normal life.'