BEAMING youngster Alex Million has plenty of reason to be full of smiles.
The little boy from Greatham has just turned four years old. He celebrated his big day with balloons, birthday badges and a day out.
In another development, Alex - who has two ear conditions - he has had his first hearing aid fitted and he is over the moon with it.
His proud mum Katy, who has single-handedly led a fundraising campaign to get him specialist treatment, said it was “the most amazing news.”
Alex has two conditions affecting his ear. One is called microtia, which means his external ear is under-developed. The other is called atresia, which means he does not have an external ear canal.
But Alex now has his first hearing aid and Katy said: “He absolutely loves it. He can hear music much better now.
“If people don’t know him, they probably won’t notice much difference but when you sit and listen to music, he never really liked it before but he likes to dance along now.”
Alex has even given his new hearing aid a nickname. He calls it his “magic hairband”, said his delighted mum.
Katy explained: “It is a bone conductive hearing aid. It is like a box that vibrates the noise through his skull as opposed to his airwaves.
“He has got a hairband that keeps his box pressed to his head.”
She said the hearing aid and his love of music was “showing a whole different side of his personality.”
There have been other milestones as well in his young life.
A fundraising campaign to get Alex to America for life-changing surgery is continuing. It is inching towards its target of £30,000. It now stands at just short of £9,000.
A specialist American surgeon called John Reinisch has developed the Medpor method of ear reconstruction specifically for the treatment of microtia.
Katy is hoping Alex can go there once the fundraising campaign is complete.
Alex has lived all his life so far with a condition so rare, it affects only one in every 6,000 people.
Katy has described Alex as “awesome” and said nothing holds him back, even though being born without an external ear canal leaves him deaf on one side.
And in another development, Alex is getting ready to start school. He will begin lessons at Greatham Primary School in September.
Katy has set up a website with more details on the condition affecting her son.
Visit it at www.earforalex.co.uk