Fundraising for second implant

Dunedin parents Gary and Sharon Soal with son Linkin and the family dog Mazy in Dunedin yesterday...
Dunedin parents Gary and Sharon Soal with son Linkin and the family dog Mazy in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
One cochlear implant made life less frustrating for Dunedin boy Linkin Soal, and now his parents are fundraising for a second.

The Government pays for one implant and many families are faced with raising about $50,000 for a second, Sharon Soal, Linkin's mother, said.

The benefits of a second implant included directional sound, and an ability to filter out extraneous noise, which would improve his language skills, Mrs Soal said.

Since the implant was fitted in December last year, he was happier, and less likely to become frustrated by an inability to communicate.

His language skills had improved in the relatively short time since the implant was fitted.

Mrs Soal said the family would fund additional costs, such as travel and accommodation, and sought to raise funds only for the operation.

Any additional money raised would be given to other families in the same position.

She set up a fundraising page on the internet a few days ago, which had raised $370 by yesterday afternoon. People could give by visiting the ''Give a Little'' website, and searching for Linkin's name.

Mrs Soal believed the Government should fund both implants, which was the practice in many other countries.

It reduced the total cost if implants were fitted in the same operation, as it meant one surgery instead of two.

Southern Cochlear Implant Programme general manager Neil Heslop, of Christchurch, said New Zealand's policy on implant funding was likely to change at some stage.

''Bilateral implants is something we are moving towards, and the question is when, not if.''

However, children with one implant could still achieve highly and attain good language skills, he said.



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