Hopes are high after ‘bionic ear’ op

“He turned when he heard the sound of heavy machinery on the streets of Manchester and that was a high for us.”

The emotion in Andrew Geary’s voice spoke volumes last night as he jetted into Cork with his “bionic ear” transplant son, Calum, following a pioneering operation which it’s hoped will transform the child’s life.

However, his father cautioned it may take “at least 12 months” before they know whether the three-and-a-half-year-old will eventually be able to lead some kind of audibly-sensitive normal lifestyle.

Calum was born deaf, but thanks to fundraisers and the persistence of the Geary family, has been given the chance of hearing for the first time due to pioneering surgery at Manchester University Hospital.

For the past two days surgeons at the hospital have been putting the finishing touches to his ABI (Auditory Brainstem Implants).

They have attached 21 implants from his brain into a special hearing box which will transmit sounds for the first time to Calum, who is from Ballyhooly, Co Cork.

“Over the past two days in Manchester they (surgeons) have given him audio and verbal therapy. The outcomes are not definite, but the first indications have been positive,” Andrew said.

He added, however, that it’s still “very much a waiting game” to see if his son would seriously benefit from the operation.

“Surgeons would have preferred that Calum was a year younger because the brain is more able to change and adapt (to this technology),” Andrew said.

“We will need more analysis in the next 12 months. However, following the incident when he reacted to the sounds of heavy machinery we are more upbeat,” he added. “We will work on regardless.”

Calum will travel back to Manchester next Wednesday for “more tweeting” on the new technology.

Mr Geary said that thanks to fundraisers’ donations €60,000 had already been provided for Calum’s treatment, which will include trips to a specialist clinic in the US for aftercare.

Unselfishly, he added people should donate money to support infant Alicja Nowicki, from Ballintemple, Cork who is undergoing multiple treatments costing hundreds of thousands of euro for a life-threatening illness called Charge Syndrome.

* Those wishing to help Alicja should log onto www.alicja.org

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