Sept 2019 The Irish Sun
The mum of twins who got state-of-the-art hearing implants after they were born deaf has told how their new “magic ears” changed their lives. Assumpta Ryan gave birth to triplets John, Sarah and Kate in 2013 and was devastated to learn the girls were profoundly deaf following their newborn screening test. New mum Assumpta and husband John worried their girls would never have the same quality of life or opportunities as their triplet brother John Jr, whose hearing was perfect.
Assumpta, from Mountmellick, Co Laois, said: “The triplets were born prematurely at 32 weeks. They were a good weight, never had any problems and were thriving. At 36 weeks, they were allowed home. “At the newborn screening, John passed and the girls failed. Two weeks later, we went back to Dublin for tests and found out they were profoundly deaf. “It was like our world fell from under our feet. There were no deaf people in our family so we didn’t have any experience with it. My biggest fear was the triplets wouldn’t be able to grow up together, that they’d have to go to different schools and they wouldn’t have each other for support. We worried about what kind of life they would have, and what kind of opportunities they would have.”
Sarah and Kate have been doing well in school since getting their implants;
Assumpta and John with Kate, Sarah, John Jr and older sister
Doctors in Beaumont Hospital told the Ryan family the girls, however, would be eligible for cochlear implants surgery. Professor Laura Viani started the National Cochlear Implant Programme at Beaumont Hospital in 1995. Now it carries out over 200 cochlear implants every year.
Kate and Sarah were the first twins in Ireland to undergo the surgery. Miraculously, a few months after the implants were in place, the girls began to hear for the first time. Mum Assumpta said: “It’s not like in YouTube videos where the face lights up when they first hear, the brain has to learn how to hear, so it was almost like they were hearing as newborns for the first time. Their hearing age was zero so everything was new. We had to teach them how to wear the implants. It was tough but we were obsessed with keeping the implants on and playing music and reading to them. We played games and sang songs for them, so they were probably switched on for maybe a month before they would turn to look when you made a sound.”
Fast forward six years, and the triplets are now thriving and are all in senior infants together.
Assumpta said: “They came on in leaps and bounds. The girls call them their magic ears. One day, John said to me at the girls’ appointment, ‘I wish I had magic ears.’ He’s probably the only child in Ireland to say that.”