Bow is our beautiful adopted daughter who has been with our family for two months. She is profoundly deaf in both ears and has recently been approved for a cochlear implant. We now have a date for surgery in Bangkok - the 27th August! The experts feel that this is a case of the-sooner-the-better and we totally agree... but now have the daunting task of raising the funds to make it possible.
Bow turns 7 in August but her speech and language assessment is consistent with age 1.5 years. This is very frustrating for her as she is a bright and inquisitive girl who loves to communicate! She was almost certainly born hearing as she has a good range of sounds. However, by the age of 2.5 when she was put into care, she had already suffered hearing loss, most likely as a result of hypoglycaemic coma. Bow has a complex genetic condition that requires very close monitoring and diet control. As a baby her care was chaotic and it is a miracle that she survived. We thank God that she is a fighter and has thrived in so many ways in the years since!
Wearing powerful hearing aids has helped Bow's hearing a lot this year but she still relies strongly on lip reading and visual cues. Her skills amaze everyone she meets! She loves to dance and has great rhythm but only gets to hear music when it is blaring - and then only certain pitches.
A cochlear implant on one side will boost Bow's hearing into the realm of normal speech and transform her experience of the world around her. Doctors think she is a prime candidate as she is so motivated to acquire language! Her brain needs to 're-learn' listening and this requires intensive rehabilitation. There is a specialist school we can send her to here in Bangkok to make sure she gets the most out of the procedure, with a full-time programme for young children who have undergone cochlear implant surgery. It is a great starting point, but our hope is that it won't take long for her to transition into mainstream school.
As a Thai Citizen with a disability, Bow is eligible to receive the actual surgical procedure for free but, like anybody else here, we have to pay for the technology. She cannot be on our health insurance as she is not a British Citizen. The process of applying for British Citizenship can take a few years and that is too long to wait where language acquisition is concerned. NHS care also requires citizenship and residency in the UK, and we still believe that Thailand is where we need to be!
A cochlear implant is a combination of a permanent internal device and an external processor that connects magnetically behind the ear. Technology progresses fast and there is a lot of variation in the models available. It is necessary to upgrade the processor approximately every 5 years, but the implant will be with her for life.
We are fundraising for a basic model of Cochlear brand implant and processor. The Foundation for the Deaf in Thailand will assist by funding nearly 50% of the cost of one specific model. This is an amazing resource and they are passionate about widening access to cochlear implants in Thailand.
Stage 1 is getting the implant fitted on the 27th August and getting the rehab process underway!
However, the external processor provided is now considered defunct in the UK and there is much more effective technology available. After lots of research, we have included the cost of upgrading the processor in our figure for fundraising as it seems so crucial to optimising Bow's chances of closing the language gap. Stage 2 will be upgrading the processor to a model that enables effective classroom learning, for example streaming the teacher's voice directly to her device. The timescale for this is next year but one appeal for funds is preferable to two!
Any amount towards our total will make a difference for Bow. If you would rather donate via our Stewardship account so as to claim gift aim please let us know. Thankyou... let's do this!!!