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Hearing at last

05 April 2013

WHEN she was born in September 2010 without any hearing nerves, Evie Small could hear nothing. The only hope of correction which she had was an auditory brain-stem implant, which meant a six-hour operation to insert a tiny electrical device into the part of the brain that processes hearing.

Only a few specialist surgeons in the world can do this, and it needed to happen before she was two years old and her brain lost the necessary flexibility. So it was a race against time for her parents, Emily and David Small, to find a surgeon - in Italy; and the money - £50,000 - that was needed to pay for the surgery and its follow-up.

It was fellow-worshippers at Holy Trinity, Blendworth, in Portsmouth diocese, together with other friends and family, who helped to raise the money. "We've really felt held by God in all of this," Mrs Small says. "We've never been alone; we've always felt totally surrounded by people's prayers. . . How do I put into words the incredible gratitude we feel to so many people who helped us make this a possibility?

"People have made personal sacrifices for our baby - shaving off their hair, cycling to France, or running two marathons on a treadmill. Richard Howell, from church, who is 74, played 110 holes of golf to raise money for us. People who don't know her have put themselves through physical pain for her. We are so grateful for those people who have raised money through work, sent cheques in the post, and those tireless angels who have held us in their prayers and thoughts."

Evie had 12 electrodes implanted, and has had to return to Italy twice for adjustments, but she can now hear speech. "To see her little head turn to noise [for the first time] was absolutely breathtaking, the most incredible thing I ever witnessed. I was too emotional to cry: I was absolutely speechless." Now, with the help of a therapist, Evie is learning to talk.

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