Hopes for Calum as ‘bionic ear’ is switched on

The parents of a young child have asked for prayers that the switch-on of his “bionic ear” will prove successful.

Surgeons will perform the intricate switch of the device fitted in Calum Geary’s ears today and again tomorrow at Manchester University Hospital.

Calum’s father Andrew said the first switch-on would take place under anaesthetic today and would be repeated tomorrow when Calum was conscious.

“We’re hoping that people will pray there is a positive resolution for Calum,” said Andrew.

The three-and-a-half-year-old, from Ballyhooly, Co Cork, will be the first Irish child to undergo the procedure when surgeons turn on auditory brainstem plants which they inserted in him two months ago.

“We have mixed feelings. Certainly there’s some excitement, but a lot of parents whose children have undergone the operation have told us it can be a frightening experience for the child and that the device mightn’t work,” said Andrew.

Calum, who was born deaf, was accompanied to Manchester yesterday by his twin brother Donnacha, older brothers Matthew, 6, and Barry, 8, and their mother Helen.

“We may have to wait six to 12 months before we find out how successful the operation is. But we hope there is a positive reaction from him on Thursday when the switch on is done without anaesthetic,” said Andrew.

Calum has been learning sign language since September and has “come on in leaps and bounds” with it recently.

On July 2 he will travel to the specialist John Treacy Clinic in Los Angeles for a month-long intensive audio and verbal therapy course which will improve his communication skills.

The Diocese of Cloyne has chosen him to go on their annual pilgrimage to Lourdes next month.

In the meantime charity fundraisers are planned to defray the costs of Calum’s treatment.

“A vintage tractor run is being organised around Fermoy on May 13 and Donal Vaughan has organised a big dance in Ballydesmond on May 18. People have held fundraising events all over Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Limerick, and Waterford and we’re very grateful to them,” said Andrew.


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