St George and Sutherland Shire Leader August 2017

You can read the full story of Norm Heldon at this link: Leader Article - George Heldon

More than one reason to celebrate: Norman Heldon at his 100th birthday celebration at Loftus Community Hall on August 5. Photo: Picture: Kat Stanley Photography

Norm Heldon

Break The Sound Barrier

One in six people have a hearing health issue.

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May 2017 Townsville Bulletin

Two-year-old Hamish Budden gave his mum a gift more precious than gold when he said “I love you” clearly for the first time. And while those three words ring sweet with all parents, it was made all the more special because Hamish was born deaf. Hamish is one of 19 children and 10 adults who have been surgically fitted with a cochlear implant at The Townsville Hospital since the service first started two years ago, an experience that his mum Lorna described as “wonderful”. “The day Hamish went in for surgery was scary; it was a big change,” she said. “When he had the surgery done 12 months ago all he could say was ‘ah’. Now he sings the ABC song and says ‘I love you’; his receptive language is above average and his expressive language is almost where it needs to be. “Our speech therapist has said by the time he’s in kindy there will be no signs at all that he is deaf.”

Lorna said she would always remember when her family first realised the device was making a difference. “We were playing in the backyard when a cockatoo squawked and flew overhead,” she said. “Hamish looked up from where he was playing to look for the bird. I just felt like cheering; he was discovering this whole new dimension to the world.”

Paediatric audiologist Sreedevi Aithal said the past two years of the service running had been extremely rewarding. “It’s very fulfilling being able to provide a service to people that makes such a profound impact on their lives, as well as their loved ones’ lives. The service is going extremely well; we have seen patients from all age groups and all of them are on target with their hearing development.”

Lorna said she was grateful for the help she had received from the unit after Hamish’s hearing issue was picked up during routine newborn hearing screening. “It was initially devastating finding out that Hamish was deaf because of the extra challenges we knew he’d have to face in life,” she said. “However, because it was picked up so early through the newborn screening he had hearing aids fitted at nine weeks old and we were able to ensure he had access to both verbal and visual language straight away.”

June 2017 9News, SBS, Sky News, Northern Star

Hundreds of cochlear implant patients are receiving new and improved devices thanks to a New South Wales government grant. Sydney artist Angie Goto received the upgraded device nine years after getting her outdated cochlear implant. “You guys take it for granted listening,” Ms Goto told 9NEWS. “Where with deaf people, we’re always concentrating, listening and lip reading.” The new implants also provide patients with Bluetooth and wireless connectivity making simple tasks like using the phone or watchingtelevision even easier.

The state government is funding $2.8 million to deliver 370 public patients of all ages across New South Wales with the technology - the most advanced in implants. Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the new device would be a “giant leap”. “It’s one small step for the individual – but it’s actually a giant leap for everyone around them because it connects them,” Mr Hazzard said. "Every single hearing-impaired adult patient in the NSW public health system will now be able to continue to enjoy the quality of life that this amazing Australian invention provides.”

When Ms Goto tried the device for the first time, she was surprised by its clarity. “Wow! It’s very clear. Wow, it’s a much better microphone,” she said. She even marvelled at being able to hear her husband’s voice as well as noisy construction work.

Audiologist Jane Brew said it was “special” to see the huge impact the new technology is having on people’s lives. “Just being able to see the impact that this technology can make for people is super special,” Ms Brew said. 

Jane BrewFunding will allow the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIBDC) to purchase and coordinate the replacement of up to 370 cochlear sound processors for NSW public patients before they become obsolete at the end of 2019.

The replacement of the sound processor will be done free of charge at a patient's routine audiology appointment and does not require extra surgery. RIBDC's Chief Executive Chris Rehn said the upgrades will be life-changing for recipients - it will greatly improve their social life and, for some, enable them to stay in the workforce.

"This significant funding boost means that hundreds of NSW Cochlear implant recipients will be able to remain connected and continue to enjoy a world of better hearing," Mr Rehn said.