March 2020 9Now-Nine

Each year, one in 1,000 Australian children are born into the world hearing nothing but silence.

Little Eden Carrero was one of those babies, but just two months ago she was fitted with a Cochlear implant, a device which stimulates the auditory nerve. The implant has transformed her, and her parents', lives. Eden's mother Carissa said that doctors clued into the fact something was wrong as soon as she was born. "We went through the newborn hearing screen test that they perform at the hospital. They had done that three times and Eden failed all three," she said.

"We were referred to an audiologist. So, just before she was two-weeks-old we had that test done, and they told us straight away that she had a profound hearing loss.” What went from one of the happiest moments in their lives, turned into a time of sadness, Eden's father Chris explained.  "You want the best for your children, and you want a perfectly healthy child and I know for me, it was a big loss," he said. "Pretty devastating.” Carissa's thoughts couldn't help but turn to the future. "We were grieving the loss of hearing that our daughter would never have and you start thinking about what her future would look like," she said. "What it would be like when she went to her first sleepover and wouldn't be able to hear at night?"

Eden CarreroThese thoughts have now been put at ease. At seven-months-old, Eden underwent four hours of surgery to get the implant fitted.  "She was so brave and we were so relieved when we got to see her at the very end. I think that was extremely emotional for me, being able to hold my baby," Carissa said. Five days after the surgery, the implants were switched on for the first time. Now she is adjusting to a new world filled with sound. "It was so exciting because our little girl was essentially going to hear for the very first time," Carissa said. "I think I said, 'hi, Eden.' I told her I loved her. We just kept saying hello. Told her she was beautiful."

Chris said that as the device was turned on, they could see the exact moment Eden started hearing. "They put the right side on first," he explained.  "As soon as they turned it on, she started looking to her right because all the sound was coming from the right side.  It was cool… you could tell in that moment she was hearing. She was now looking for sounds."

Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre speech pathologist Kylie Chisholm told Today Extra that detection is the key to restoring hearing.  "Early intervention is key to providing families and their little children with that foundational stage," she said. "In little ones, we look for the startle reflex Around eight months we look for a variety of sounds in their babble. As children get older and also for adults, if we're needing to see someone to follow the conversation or understand what's happening that's a key sign. If we're needing the TV up louder than everyone else that's probably a sign and not being able to localise where a sound is coming from."

Fast forward a few months and Eden is now responding to her own name. Her overjoyed parents said that making her laugh is one of their highlights

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