Jan 2019 Timaru Herald
A Timaru 7-year-old is hearing a whole new world following surgery last year. Romy Hurst had a three-hour bilateral cochlear implant operation in August at St George's Hospital, Christchurch, replacing the hearing aids the profoundly deaf girl had worn since she was six months old.Born with Kabuki Syndrome, Romy's hearing had gradually declined from mild-deafness to having to have her hearing aids turned up to full volume but even they were not helping anymore. She communicates with sign language and some speech. Three months on her mother Jess Hurst said the surgery has been "life-changing" - not just for her daughter but for the whole family.

Romy Hurst

Romy plays cards in her Timaru home

"We couldn't have asked for a better outcome.” The publicly-funded operation costs about $50,000.

Jess said the family now had to be careful what they whispered around Romy. "She can hear everything now and whispering is not really a go anymore.” Hearing things clearly for the first time, such as rain, has been a novelty, Jess said. The new sense of hearing means Romy is no longer getting frustrated at missing out on conversations, and she is now interacting well with others, boosting her confidence, Jess said. "It's great to see," she said.

Kabuki Syndrome is a rare congenital disorder, and children with the condition usually have distinctive facial features and growth issues. Kabuki syndrome can also affect many other body systems and it occurs in about one out of every 32,000 births.

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