'Ecstatic' about change

Linkin Soal (5) with his parents Sharon and Gary and their dog Mazy last week. Photo by Gregor...
Linkin Soal (5) with his parents Sharon and Gary and their dog Mazy last week. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
A Dunedin mother is ''over the moon'' the Government will fund her son's second cochlear implant, saying money raised for his operation will be given to a child who does not qualify for the expand programme.

Sharon Soal said yesterday she was ''ecstatic'' about Health Minister Tony Ryall's pre-Budget announcement that children with profound hearing loss will now receive two funded cochlear implants, and children under 6 with only one implant will be offered a second funded implant.

The Budget, on May 15, would provide an extra $6.3 million over four years for a bilateral cochlear implant programme.

At present, children with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears receive one funded cochlear implant. From July, affected children would receive two.

''A single implant has been the standard treatment for children with profound hearing loss. International best practice has changed and the Ministry of Health has updated their policy as a result,'' Mr Ryall said in a press release.

''Some families have already privately funded a second implant for their child. We will provide these children with free follow-up services, such as repairs, replacement speech processors and spare batteries.

''In addition to the $6.3 million for children's bilateral cochlear implants, there will also be a one-off $1.1 million funding boost to reduce the wait list for adults requiring cochlear implants.''

Mrs Soal launched a fundraising campaign this month for $50,000 to fund a second implant for son Linkin (5).

As Linkin met the age criteria for the expanded programme, Mrs Soal was giving the more than $900 she had raised to a New Plymouth family whose child did not meet the criteria.

Mrs Soal said she knew the Government was looking at the issue, but had not expected a result so soon.

''I can't put my emotion into a single word. I'm just so over the moon.''


Cochlear implants

About 86 people receive cochlear implants each year

Up to 16 are infants

30 are children 2-18

40 are adults



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