THE parents of a tiny baby who was born profoundly deaf have been given fresh hope after medics approved a pioneering operation to improve her hearing.
Seven-month-old Paige Evans, from Hartlepool, looks set to be one of the youngest people in the country to undergo a revolutionary cochlear implant after her doctor gave the go-ahead for the treatment.
Her delighted parents Bethany Tait and Paul Evans, 28, of Annandale Crescent, West View, say they are “over the moon” that their young daughter may be able to hear in a matter of weeks.
Bethany, 20, appeared in the Mail last month and poignantly described how her biggest wish is for Paige to hear her parents tell her they love her.
Today she said: “It’s going to happen, we are just waiting for a date.
“There could be a cancellation and get her in.
“We can’t believe it.
“I just can’t wait for the phone call and am dying to know when she’s going to get in.”
Paige was born profoundly deaf on March 11 at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, after Bethany contracted group B streptococcus (group B strep), a bacteria which causes severe infections in newborns.
At just two weeks old, Bethany and Paul, who is originally from Thornley, were dealt a further blow when Paige was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with the killer brain bug meningitis, linked to group B strep.
Bethany, a full-time mum, previously told the Mail that Paige, who could still be left with learning and mobility problems in later life due to the group B strep, was due to undergo an MRI scan to find out whether her existing cochlear had been too severely damaged by the meningitis to be able to take the implant.
But she said today that although they are still awaiting the results of the scan, doctors contacted her to say the operation will definitely go ahead.
Bethany and unemployed factory worker Paul have even chosen which design of implant their daughter, who has been wearing tiny hearing aids to help stimulate the nerves in her hearing canal in preparation for any potential surgery, will have when the procedure is carried out at James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough.
Bethany, who has been inquiring about taking a sign language course, added: “A member of staff from James Cook came over earlier this week and brought us an implant to show us what it looks like.
“It made it more exciting when we got to pick the implant, we chose a white waterproof one.”
Excited Bethany said she has already been looking for musical toys to buy for Bethany in the hope that she will at last be able to hear them.
There are risks to the intricate eight-hour procedure, which includes doctors delicately cutting behind Paige’s ear and drilling through the skull to insert the implant, but the couple say they have been assured by doctors that their baby is in safe hands.
Once the surgery has taken place they will have to wait a month before they can switch the implant on and find out whether their daughter can hear.