Christ­mas is hear

North Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By ERICA DON­ALD

DANIELLE Cooper will be able to hear the sleigh bells ring­ing this Christ­mas.

The 13- year- old Al­bany res­i­dent is look­ing for­ward to sum­mer now she has two cochlear im­plants.

‘‘It’s ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble,’’ she says. ‘‘My world has com­pletely opened up.’’

Danielle was di­ag­nosed as deaf at six months old and has re­lied on hear­ing aids ever since.

But she started de­vel­op­ing le­sions on her ears when she was 11 and the de­vices be­came painful to wear.

Ear­lier this year she stopped wear­ing her right hear­ing aid al­to­gether and de­cided to look into cochlear im­plants.

Fast for­ward through nu­mer­ous au­di­ol­ogy ap­point­ments and she was ac­cepted for surgery on her right ear for Au­gust 20, then the left for Novem­ber 5.

Now Danielle is en­joy­ing sounds which she had never been able to hear, such as the clock tick­ing, frogs and birds, the purring of her three cats and the school assem­bly.

Danielle can now hear even while swimming, thanks to the wa­ter­proof Aqua+ ac­ces­sories.

She and her fam­ily go away on their boat ev­ery year and she says the im­plants will change her whole sum­mer.

‘‘So many of my friends have pools and I’ve never been able to go and fully par­tic­i­pate,’’ she says. ‘ ‘ Last sum­mer was very lonely and I lost a lot of im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion and con­tacts.

‘‘Now I can go swimming and talk to ev­ery­one. It’s not go­ing to be so isolating.’’

Danielle has al­ready been to the beach with friends to test it out and says it was one of the best mo­ments of her life.

‘‘Go­ing un­der the wa­ter was in­cred­i­ble,’’ she says. ‘‘I could hear wa­ter squirting around the im­plants, waves crash­ing and the bub­bles. I was in­cluded and I could hear peo­ple.’’

Mum Tracey Cooper says it will be great for Danielle to be able to re­lax around wa­ter be­cause the hear­ing aids weren’t wa­ter­proof.

‘‘She can be more spon­ta­neous around wa­ter,’’ Tracey says.

‘‘We were al­ways wor­ried with the hear­ing aids in rain or if some­one had a water­gun.’’

Even with­out the Aqua+ cover the cochlear im­plants are wa­ter resistant and will work after be­ing left to dry out.

‘‘It’s a whole new set of ears,’’ Tracey says.

‘‘She can hear peo­ple read their stupid cracker j okes out and laugh at them.’’

‘ ‘ I couldn’t be hap­pier,’’ Danielle says. ‘‘It was the best decision of my life.’’

Never hap­pier: While mak­ing the decision to get cochlear im­plants was tough and scary, Danielle Cooper says it was the best decision of her life.

She’s un­stop­pable: Hav­ing two cochlear im­plants means Danielle Cooper can do all the things she loves, such as gym­nas­tics, with­out feel­ing left out.

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