Little Erin given the gift of hearing

Deanna and Billy Cairns with  Denise Martin and Eirn McShane
Four-year-old Erin McShane was given a new lease of life last week after surgeons fitted a cochlear implant into her right ear.

Four-year-old Erin McShane was given a new lease of life last week after surgeons fitted a cochlear implant into her right ear.

The hearing device will allow Erin to hear in both ears.

The procedure is the result of national campaign established by two Dundalk parents.

Denise McShane and Deanna Cairns, the mother’s of Erin and Billy, formed the Happy New Year Campaign.

The group, established nearly two years ago, campaigned for the government to implement bilateral cochlear implants.

In this country, it was the standard practice that only one cochlear implant was fitted to profoundly deaf children like Erin and Billy.

However, in many other European countries bilateral implants is the norm.

Deanna and Denise established the “Happy New Ear” group in January 2013 calling for deaf children to be fitted with two (bilateral) implants.

The group become a force to be reckoned with, as hundreds of families in similar situations across the country joined the campaign.

After months of campaigning, the HSE finally allocated €3.22m to start the bilateral cochlear implant programme.

“We are delighted,” Denise told The Democrat.

“Erin’s operation went very well. The surgeons turned on the implant last week.

“It will take time for the implant to turn in. It will also take time for Erin to adjust to the implant.

“This side of her brain has never heard before. So it is a new experience for Erin and it will take time.”

Erin will travel to Beaumont Hospital every two weeks for surgeons to keep a track ofher progress.

“It will take time, but we are happy that the operation is finished.

“The surgeons will slowly increase the level of hearing.”

Erin attends playschool in Greenacres, Dundalk, and is making great progress.

“Erin is doing great and the implant will really make a difference.

“Only for the campaign we would still be waiting for the government to introduce the device.”

Meanwhile, little Billy Cairns is making great progress since he got his implant activated.

“Billy is doing great,” proud mother Deanna told The Democrat.

“He loves school and all the staff are brilliant.

“He is saying a lot more words and is counting, ”she continued.

“The implant has really improved Billy’s life. Long may it last.”