Two funded implants ‘fantastic’
A mother is thrilled more children with hearing problems will have access to the same procedure that helped her daughter.
From July, children under 6 with profound hearing loss will get two governmentfunded cochlear implants rather than just one, Health Minister Tony Ryall has announced.
The parents of Finley Tutaka-Brown, 4, decided cochlear implants were the right choice for their daughter when tests showed she was profoundly deaf.
Her family had to raise more than $45,000 for a second implant.
The Mt Albert family shared their story in the Central Leader last September.
The implants have made a huge difference, mum Kerri Tutaka-Brown says.
‘‘The biggest change has been in the last six months; now she’s interacting more with other kids. Before she was a very solitary person but now she’s full of life.’’
She says the funding will take a huge pressure away from parents who would have had to fundraise for the second implant.
Families who have funded a second implant for their child will have free follow-up services, such as repairs, spare batteries and replacement speech processors.
‘‘It’s fantastic. It’s a huge relief for us not having to worry about the cost of repairs and parts because they’re all really expensive and it’s amazing that more kids will now be able to have two ears as well.’’
An extra $6.3 million is to be spent over four years on the bilateral cochlear implants programme for children, Ryall says.
Under the present policy children with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears receive one funded cochlear implant but from July they will get two.
Children under 6 with one implant will be offered a second, funded implant.
International evidence suggests a second implant is less effective and less tolerated by older children who have used a single implant for a long period, the Health Ministry says.
A one-off $1.1m funding boost is also hoped to reduce the waiting list for adults.
Annually about 86 people A cochlear implant is a medical device consisting of internal and external parts designed to bypass damaged hair cells in the inner ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve.
The brain interprets this stimulation as sound. It can allow severely or profoundly deaf people who get little or no benefit from hearing aids access to sound.
Access to sound can help children develop spoken language. have cochlear implants which includes up to 16 infants, 30 children aged from 2 to 18 years and 40 adults.
Great listener: Kerri Tutaka-Brown says her daughter Finley, 4, was transformed after being introduced to the hearing world last year.