IM this article to a friend!

April 28, 2004

We will not hear of this

From: Daily Telegraph - Sydney,New South Wales,Australia - Apr 28, 2004


April 28, 2004

THE cheeky smile on four-year-old Luke Beard's face as he tears around the garden on his bike is the happy ending to a story of callous thievery.

Luke, who is profoundly deaf, was left devastated when his bionic ear was stolen, leaving him unable to communicate and cut off from his family.

But yesterday, after The Daily Telegraph reported the speech processor had been stolen, Luke got his hearing back.

He now has a temporary speech processor, courtesy of the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre (SCIC), while a new one is made for him. SCIC will pay for the new $10,000 processor.

Luke's mother, Lee Pilcher, said the change in her son now he could hear again was incredible. She said that without the device "he cries, he's cranky and doesn't listen to anything we try to tell him through sign language".

But as he spent the day playing with his brother Jarrod, 8, and his sisters Taylor, 6, and Mikayla, 4, his improved mood was obvious as he giggled, and hugged and kissed his mother.

Taylor was almost as excited as her brother.

"Now we can watch Looney Tunes together on TV and laugh at Bugs Bunny," she said.

But the thieves, who stole the device while Luke played outside his aunt's home in Willmot, in Sydney's outer-west, have deprived others waiting for upgrades to their implants.

SCIC manager Chris Rehn said: "There is a five to six-year waiting list for implant upgrades and replacing a stolen processor further diminishes the bucket of money that is already too small to help every user of a cochlear implant."

Luke's aunt Deneen Lovatt said his entire family was relieved that Luke could hear again.

"To have no ears is what it's like for him all the time without his implant," she said.

"It costs a lot of money to get a replacement and we were not 100 per cent sure if Luke would be lucky enough or eligible for a new one."

Mt Druitt Police Inspector Greg Byrne said no one had yet come forward with any more information about Luke's stolen implant.

Copyright 2004 Nationwide News | Produced by The Daily Telegraph and News Interactive