Two-year-old Jdae Prescott jumped for joy yesterday when, for the first time in her life, she heard the barking of the dogs in the backyard of her St Thomas home.
The toddler covered her eyes, ran to the window, and pointed to the pets that she was used to seeing but had never heard.
Jdae, who is hearing impaired, had a cochlear implant (CI) surgically affixed to her inner ear on Monday, making it possible for her to hear for the first time.
“We realize that she has quiet down a lot because she can hear herself and she is interacting a lot better,” her mother Janelle Prescott told Barbados TODAY this morning, clearly relieved that her daughter would lead as close to a normal life as possible.
The child’s family realized something was wrong when, at ten months old, Jdae would not respond to sound, no matter how loud.
Tests later proved the girl was hearing impaired, forcing the desperate and determined mother to investigate every possible route to a remedy.
Prescott’s relentless efforts led to a partnership involving the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust, the World Paediatric Project (WPP) and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), which resulted in Monday’s life changing surgery that delivered the gift of hearing to her daughter.
“We just want to give thanks for everything. Thanks to the Father, and everyone that has brought us to this stage.
“[We have] a strong belief in family and being together and not stopping. I just want to tell people don’t ever stop, find other avenues to go to,” the mother said.
Monday’s operation at the QEH was the first of its kind in the Caribbean and was conducted by Medical Director of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Medicine Cochlear Implant Program Dr Daniel Coelho, with assistance from Dr Roy Forde and Dr Chris Maynard, both of the QEH.
To Jdae’s father Damian Griffith, watching his daughter react for the first time to the barking of the dogs was “humbling”.
“To be here having this conversation is a humbling and encouraging experience. It shows that no matter what situation you are in, there are solutions. I am very thankful,” Griffith said.
Jdae will be three years old in September but she has not yet learned how to speak.
The father said the family’s next priority would be speech therapy for her.
Trustee of the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust Phillipa Challis was driven to tears as she delivered remarks at a press conference this morning to announce the successful cochlear implant surgery.
Challis said until now, this type of operation had only been available abroad at very high costs.
“The Sandy Lane Charitable Trust’s role in this Healthy Hearing mission in the first instance has been to provide whatever funding is necessary to ensure the Barbados mission is achieved [including] flights and accommodation for the WPP team. The actual cochlear implant itself, which even at a heavily discounted price thanks to Dr Daniel Cohilio, was still $40, 000,” Challis said.
CI recipients require specialized audiology programming from the outset and annual visits, all of which will be conducted at the Albert Cecil Graham Development Centre here by Senior Audiologist Dr Sean Kastetter and Dr Jennifer White, also of VCU.
The Trust said the ability to programme CI’s here was an integral part of the success of its new Healthy Hearing programme.
It said it had also founded the Sandy Lane Trust Hearing Bank to provide hearing aids to children in need, beginning with the provision 60 new Phonak devices valued at $30,000 to those who have been on Government’s waiting list for “quite some time”.