Cork boy shows hearing progress after neurosurgery
A THREE-YEAR-OLD Cork boy who underwent a pioneering operation to implant a bionic ear has “shown the first signs of hearing” after completing an intensive specialist programme in the US.
Calum Geary, an identical twin, made medical history earlier this year when neurosurgeons in Manchester performed a complex €60,000 HSE-funded operation that only 140 children in the world have had.
The child, who was born deaf, had implants inserted in his brain which were then attached to a box in his ear.
Although his bionic ear was activated in May, enabling him to hear sounds for the first time in his life, his parents, Andrew and Helen, had said their son’s progress had been slow.
But they said yesterday that they had noticed a huge transformation in his progress over the last three weeks, as he received crucial post-operative therapy, which included basic speech production and sound-deciphering techniques, at the renowned John Tracy Clinic in California.
Andrew Geary (37), a Garda sergeant from Ballyhooly, Co Cork, said last night that the intensive, six-hours-a-day course not only set Calum on the right track to a life of hearing but also equipped the family with the tools to help his development.
Calum’s twin, Donnacha, and two older brothers attended a specialist sibling programme at the centre of excellence, while his parents attended a separate, tailored course to teach them vital skills to aid their son’s progress.
“The course went beyond all expectations,” said Mr Geary.
“We have come as a whole family, from a status of a pre-lingual child with no definite signs of hearing, to a much more confident child with the very first signs of hearing.”
Calum’s visit to the US, the first of several over the next few years, was made possible by €60,000 pledged by the Irish public through a long-running fundraising campaign for his postoperative care.
Calum, whose condition is cochlear nerve aplasia, will continue intensive therapy back home in Cork.