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December 6, 2006

Implants overcome cruel meningitis blow

From: ic - Surrey,England,UK - Dec 6, 2006

Dec 6 2006

By Pippa Woolnough

A TODDLER who was rushed to hospital on Christmas Day with meningitis and suffered profound deafness as a side effect is able to hear again after receiving special implants.

Oliver Fines,of Station Road, Lingfield, was just 13 months old when he was taken to hospital in the early hours of Christmas Day last year after his mum became concerned about his health.

Mum Monika said: "I noticed he had a bit of a temperature on Christmas Eve, but as he was teething I wasn't particularly worried.

"He didn't eat his lunch or want much dinner either,which was unusual because he likes his food.

"But he stopped drinking that night so at about 4am on Christmas Day we took him to East Surrey Hospital."

Oliver was admitted for tests,but it was not until he had a spinal tap that doctors were able to confirm he had pneumococcal meningitis.

Monika, 41, said: "We were very lucky we caught it very early.He was never in intensive care and was out on January 1."

But Oliver's family did not realise the illness had caused the toddler to lose his hearing until a routine hearing test at the end of January.

Mum-of-two Monika said: "Oliver had said a few words before Christmas, but they were lost in those 10 days and he also had trouble with his balance. But you kid yourself very easily that it's due to other causes."

The hearing test on January 31 confirmed her worst fears.

Because Oliver was profoundly deaf,a hearing aid could not help.

A cochlear implant was offered as a solution. The device uses a tiny computer to record the sound, bypass the damaged part of the ear and send electrical impulses through the hearing nerve to the brain.

The family went to Great Ormond Street Hospital in March and Oliver was fitted with the first of his cochlear implants in May.

According to his mum, the difference was immediate and she pushed to have his other ear done.

The second device was implanted on October 19 and switched live on November 14, the day before Oliver's second birthday.

The tot's mum said: "When they switched on the second [cochlear implant], the woman said, 'Hello Oliver', and he looked up and pointed to his ear."

Monika said she and her husband Barry,37, and Oliver's big brother Jonathan, four, are over the moon with the implants.

They are looking forward to a calmer Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.

The two-year-old has gained in confidence with walking and is about a year behind with his speech, but his mum is delighted with his progress and is hoping he will catch up soon.

Monika said: "It was a tough year, but we were very lucky.The implants are wonderful."

© Trinity Mirror Southern Limited 2007