A gift of hear­ing

Ex­pats' gen­eros­ity get Tom Barnes a hear­ing sys­tem

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jack Troughton jtroughton@cb­news.es

Young Tom Barnes gets hear­ing sys­tem thanks to ex­pat gen­eros­ity

YOUNG Tom Barnes en­joys the same seem­ingly end­less en­ergy of all young­sters and thanks to ground-break­ing tech­nol­ogy can now hear the out­side world.

Thanks to a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign and the gen­eros­ity of char­i­ties and ex­pats, the sev­enyear-old has been fit­ted with a new hear­ing sys­tem – the first young­ster in Va­len­cia to ben­e­fit from ‘Ad­hears’, launched by Med-El just over a year ago and only avail­able pri­vately.

Spe­cial adap­tors stick to the head be­hind the ears and a bone con­duc­tion sys­tem al­lows sound to travel di­rectly to the cochlea, miss­ing out the ear canal.

Tom’s new ears were fit­ted last month by a spe­cial­ist at the Hos­pi­tal La Rib­era in Alzira – and now the Jávea school­boy can reach for the stars.

And Tom, mum Sarah, and grand­mother Veron­ica met rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the as­so­ci­a­tions that took him out of a twi­light zone in Jávea’s Pi­nosol Park to say a big ‘thanks’.

Sarah launched a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign to raise money for the hear­ing aids and in a month col­lected €1,577 – and then Costa Blanca ra­dio sta­tion Pure Gold stepped in with a fund rais­ing event in Be- ni­tachell; fol­lowed by Teu­lada and Mo­raira Li­ons, Help of De­nia and the Ma­rina Alta, Grant a Wish, the Ma­sonic Home of Va­len­cia As­so­ci­a­tion and the Mo­raira Char­ity Shop all play­ing a part to help Tom.

Help’s Candy Wright said: “It’s been a great joint ef­fort by the char­i­ties to help this lit­tle man have a bet­ter fu­ture...he can now hear his teacher, his fam­ily and his friends and not live in his twi­light world.”

She said Help had also no­ticed Tom’s fas­ci­na­tion with outer space and had pre­sented him with a te­le­scope.

Mum Sarah told CB­News: “You saw the dif­fer­ence as soon as he put them on; orig­i­nally he would not hear any­thing ex­cept by one to one lip read­ing.

“When it was fit­ted his face just lit up and he could hear ev­ery­thing; now he just wants to wear them all the time.

“Be­cause this is so new, it will be an­other 18 months be­fore there is a gov­ern­ment grant to help pay for them.”

She said 16 months ago, Tom un­der­went surgery to fit more con­ven­tional de­vices but it was dis­cov­ered he had a tu­mour in his ear. “It has been a strug­gle since, but this new sys­tem was launched last May and has been avail­able in Spain since Jan­uary; his doc­tor is a top sur­geon in Va­len­cia and the only one who can fit them – he is the only lad to have them.”

She said while Tom, who has three sis­ters, en­joyed foot­ball, he re­ally liked in­di­vid­ual sports and was a tal­ented gym­nast.

Sarah said the young­ster was still un­sure of his ca­reer path. “He wants to be a po­lice­man and then a pi­lot...but a few weeks ago, it was a dust­bin man.”

Tom (cen­tre) and char­ity rep­re­sen­ta­tives

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