A gift of hearing
Expats' generosity get Tom Barnes a hearing system
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