Violet’s ear to hear
Violet is a beautiful, happy, engaged toddler. Sadly, she does not have a right external ear (called microtia) and is missing her left and right ear canals (bilateral atresia). As a result, Violet has severe hearing loss and cannot hear conversations, only loud noises.
Creating both ear canals
Violet needs reconstructive surgery that is unavailable in Australia and is only available in the United States to:
- create both ear canals, enabling herto hear,
- construct a right external ear,
- andpossibly enlarge her little left ear.
Violet only has a tiny skin tab of 1cm x 1cm on her right side, smaller than a standard ear lobe and with no cartilage or hole opening in the skull. She has a smaller than average left ear, and surgeons need to monitor its growth to determine whether it will require supplementation.
Unable to fund the expensive surgery
The financial target is highly daunting for Clementine, aged 24, who has deferred Nursing studies at university. Violet’s father, Jed, is also aged only 23. Unfortunately, they have no means of funding this treatment that is essential for Violet’s wellbeing and to give her the best opportunities for education, a successful future and optimal employment. Research statistics show that people with hearing loss have significantly lower incomes than non-hearing-impaired people.
The family desperately wants Violet to have the same opportunities as other children and attend mainstream school. If Violet’s parents cannot provide the surgery for her, she would need bulky bone-anchored hearing devices fitted externally to both sides of her skull as she cannot wear conventional hearing aids. This would be extremely difficult for any child to cope with and cause emotional problems with bullying, inability to participate in everyday activities, sport, swimming and music, and affect every aspect of her life. It would be devastating.
Surgery preferably performed before starting school
Violet will gain the maximum benefit from the surgery during the educational period of her life (from ages 6 to 15). The surgery is preferably performed before starting school.
- Early hearing experience is vital to developing the brain’s neural pathways. The six-month postoperative settling periods for both ears (completed at least six months apart) should be resolved before starting school.
- When Violet starts school at age 5 or 6, the ear canal surgery will allow her to hear in class, especially with background noise in classrooms, without requiring special arrangements such as hearing loops and sitting at the front of the class.
- She will acquire more dynamic hearing than hearing devices can provide, enabling the appreciation of humour and nuances of language.
- Violet will also gain directional hearing that is impossible with hearing devices to identify sound sources and locations, e.g. which person in class or a group is speaking or calling out in team sports.
- It will allow her to know the direction of alarms, phones, and approaching cars whilst crossing roads for improved safety, observable by her looking towards sounds.
- Surgically created ear canals will allow Violet to participate in the same activities as her peers, e.g. sports music.
- It will give her optimal opportunities for a successful future and employment options.
- Additionally, the cosmetic creation of a right outer ear will improve Violet’s self-esteem and mean that she avoids bullying and other emotional distractions to her education between the ages of 6 to 25 years.
Violet’s Ear to Hear registered charity with DGR endorsement
The surgery is expensive and is required to be performed on separate occasions, necessitating different trips with postoperative stays in the U.S. of four weeks each.
Each surgery, travel, and stay in the U.S. with exchange rates etc., is estimated to cost AUD 150,000, totalling approximately AUD 300,000. 100% of donations to Violet’s Ear to Hear charity directly provide surgery, with no administrative costs or payments. Postage and printing etc., are gifted separately by family.