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
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
"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.