IM this article to a friend!

August 5, 2003

Retired hearing aid technician helps less the fortunate appreciate sounds

From: Belleville News-Democrat, IL - Aug 5, 2003


An 11-year-old Mexican girl who can now hear through both ears is among those helped recently by an Edwardsville man who collected used hearing aids and $2,000 cash in the metro-east.

"I received over 150 hearing aids," said Bob Lammert, who traveled to Mexico for the second and last time this year to help people in a rural area.

Lammert is a retired audioprostologist, a fitter and repairer of hearing devices. His passion has become Nuevo Casa Grande, a free clinic in Colonial Juarez, Mexico.

The people he has served at the clinic, located 200 miles south of El Paso, Texas, have no money for hearing tests and treatment.

"What they will tell you is 'God will pay you for your service,'" Lammert said.

He appealed for help from the community in June because, on his first trip the clinic in 2002, he ran out of hearing aids and had to turn away about 200 people. He returned this year with more hearing aids and another hearing specialist.

"This year was more controlled. No one left without being seen," he said.

In addition to used hearing aids, Lammert received $2,000 in cash from civic organizations and individuals. The donations ranged from $500 to $1 given to Lammert by a nursing home resident, he said.

The cash was helpful because few of the donated hearing aids were for children. Those usually have to be purchased at a cost of $49 for a refurbished aid.

Children often need the over-the-ear type hearing aid. That was the type given to the 11-year-old girl, whose visits to three hospitals had not helped.

"She had no hearing in her left ear," Lammert said. "I (tested) for pure tones ... and discovered that she had severe and profound loss in all frequencies."

Lammert fitted the girl with a hearing aid at the clinic and later heard that a fourth doctor has agreed "that the hearing aid placed in her left hear was the way to go and that it was a good decision."

Lammert, 71, said he went back this year to a week of 14-hour work days against the advice of his doctors. But it was his last time to make the trip.

"I promised my wife I will respect my cardiologist," he said.

Lammert's wife, Shirley, went with him this year and soon was caught up in the spirit of the clinic.

"She did some things behind the scene that people didn't see -- washed dishes, helped the speech therapist," Lammert said.

From now on Lammert will work as a fund-raiser and used hearing aid collector for the clinic. He can be reached at 656-6570.

Another audioprostologist Mark Smith, 61, of Joplin, Mo., will continue to go to Mexico for a week each year.

Lammert has established a fund, Labor of Love, at the Bank of Edwardsville.

On Lammert's wish list is money to help a clinic employee to learn more advanced skills in audio testing and speech therapy. He also wants to help a 5-year-old boy named Ivan receive a cochlear implant.

The implant is a device that can bring hearing to the completely deaf. It is surgically implanted.

© 2003 Belleville News-Democrat and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.