Sunday 17 December 2017

Ear op gives Liam birthday wish of hearing again

Nick Bramhill

A TODDLER will hear his parents sing 'Happy Birthday' to him for the first time today when he turns two.

Little Liam Coughlan lost his hearing completely at five months after overcoming a severe form of meningitis.

But, shortly before his first birthday, he became the youngest person in Ireland to have sound-restoring implants placed in both ears simultaneously.

Surgeons at the National Cochlear Implant Programme at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin had to act quickly, fearing any delay in operating could have made Liam permanently deaf because of his young age and the potentially devastating effects of the meningitis on his ears.

But in the months since the operation, the youngster, from Shankiel, Co Cork, who is undergoing intensive speech and language therapy, has performed strongly in hearing tests and even started uttering his first words.

And his relieved parents, Grace and John, who also have a daughter, Shannon (3), said his birthday celebration will be extra special, particularly as he will be able to hear the words to 'Happy Birthday' for the first time.

Grace said: "It was just over a year ago when Liam's implants were turned on, but he wasn't able to really hear anything properly. But he's come on so much since then. He has a few words now, but can understand so much more and we know that from how well he's performed in hearing tests.


"He's really come on leaps and bounds and although he still has some way to go before he catches up with other children his age, we now have every hope that he'll be able to attend mainstream school and that's something we really thought would never be possible at one stage."

In between his regular speech and language sessions, the youngster is still required to make regular trips to the hospital in Dublin for check-ups.

But his devoted parents and sister are looking forward to a special family day at home today, as they celebrate both his second birthday and remarkable progress.

Grace added: "We've a cake ready and it really will be a special moment when we light the candles and watch how he smiles as we sing 'Happy Birthday' to him."

Irish Independent

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