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February 9, 2006

Family hopes auction will raise funds to give deaf boy cochlear implant

From: Colorado Springs Gazette, CO - Feb 9, 2006


A Colorado Springs couple is hoping an auction will help introduce their 20-month-old son to the world of sound.

Aidan Davies was born profoundly deaf; the first hint anything was wrong came during a newborn screening test, said his mother, Rebecca Davies.

“We’ve gone through a lot of tests and we’ve tried hearing aids, and our doctor recommended a cochlear implant,” said Rebecca Davies.

Unlike a hearing aid, which amplifies sounds, a cochlear implant bypasses parts of the ear that aren’t working and electronically sends sounds to the brain, which decodes them.

The cost for the implant: about $60,000. Aidan’s family is trying to raise funds for some of the costs, in part through the online auction.

Rebecca Davies said the family received a grant to cover the cost of the device, and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services said Wednesday it will seek funds from its foundation to relieve some of the surgical costs.

Dr. Cameron Shaw, who performs two to three such surgeries a month, said most traditional insurance plans — including Medicare and Medicaid — cover the device and the procedure. He said he performs most implants done in the Springs.

The Davies family, however, is covered through Colorado Springs Utilities’ self-funded plan, which excludes the implants. Rebecca Davies is an environmental engineer with the utility.

In 2004, another Springs family insured by the utility also held fundraisers to cover the cost of an implant. Justin Haddock, who was 5 when he received the device, is “doing fantastic,” said his mom, Michelle Seib. Seib called the technology a miracle and said Justin is now hearing things most take for granted: the purring of his cat, for example.

Steve Berry, a spokesperson for the utility, said the implants aren’t covered because they are both expensive and rare. “But we are always evaluating our medical program,” he said.

The silent auction for Aidan is being held online at Bids for most auction items close on Friday.


Copyright 2006, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved.