Sarah Buckley with her ten month old son Isaac at his cochlear implant tuning session with an audiologist at QMC.

Never could a mother imagine that her baby would be the first deaf person she would meet, especially a newborn just four weeks old.

This was the devastating news Sarah Buckley, 37 from Nottingham and her husband Matt after they discovered their baby boy had been born without full hearing.

Sarah said: “Isaac was the first deaf person that Matt and I had really met or known, so we were really upset.

“The first things that come to mind are how am I going to communicate with him and is he going to be able to talk?”

The next stage for the family was a screening that lasted three hours and it was after this test that doctors at the QMC diagnosed baby Isaac as profoundly deaf.

Sarah and Matt Buckley on a family walk with their 2-year-old son Jacob and baby Isaac.

Stunned by Isaac’s diagnosis, Sarah began to ask questions such as whether the diagnosis was permanent and whether he would ever be able to hear in his life.

She said: “It was really shocking and extremely sad telling people about the diagnosis.”

“We soon learnt that profoundly deaf meant that Isaac is as deaf as deaf can be”

At just seven weeks old they collected moulds for Isaac’s hearing aid and they used the device for seven months, but he failed to show any response to sound.

“After repeating the three hour test and a lot of consultations at the audiology department at QMC we knew that we were doing the cochlear implant route, but even before this we were already being supported with professional advice at The Ear Foundation.”

“For quite a few months Isaac was one of youngest in the 0-2 group there, so we could speak to families that had been through the process not long before Isaac, this was invaluable really.”

“I stood behind him and said his name again and he turned his head right round and smiled”
Sarah Buckley, Mother to Isaac

Isaac’s cochlear implant was fitted exactly nine months from when he was born, but things only started to change after a second breakthrough appointment with the audiologist.

“Suddenly we started to think that he was hearing things and then a few days later we were adjusting the high chair and I said his name and he turned his head.

I let him continue eating and then I stood behind him and said his name again and he turned his head right round and smiled.”

“It was just absolutely an amazing feeling because when you first find out you just don’t know if that is going to be possible.”

Sarah and Isaac at a Sound Beginnings session at The Ear Foundation.

Sarah says Isaac is now really interested in sound toys, singing and tapping a tambourine.

He is attending speech and language therapy sessions and continuing in the Sound Beginnings group at The Ear Foundation where he is learning the contrast between sounds with other deaf children in Nottinghamshire.

Sarah continued: “There are going to be challenges when he starts school with noisy environments where he is not sure where the sound is coming from.

It’s great for him to meet other children and know there is a deaf community out there for him.”

The Ear Foundation is a hearing loss charity based in Lenton that was the first to bring cochlear implants to the UK in 1989 and has since commissioned and supported technological research which means tiny implants can even connect to an iPhone.

Isaac’s cochlear implant has given him and new lease of life thanks to the NHS and The Ear Foundation.

Sarah Allen, acting CEO at The Ear Foundation, has been working with the charity for 27 years, initially as an NHS specialist speech and language therapist on the Nottingham Paediatric Cochlear Implant Programme.

She said: “People who suffered with deafness came from all around the country to learn about cochlear implants and get the support they need in what is a challenging time, especially for parents.

“Now the Ear Foundation bridges the gap between clinics where hearing technologies are fitted and home, school and work where they are used, supporting deaf people with a family programme, education programme and research programme.”

Today Nottingham is a hub for hearing technology research and clinicians with a leading Nottingham Cochlear Implant Programme at Ropewalk House.

Sarah Allen, CEO at The Ear Foundation with artwork done by a professional artist directed by teenagers with hearing loss displaying the many possibilities that now come with hearing technology.

Research conducted in collaboration with The Ear Foundation has led The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to update cochlear implant eligibility criteria extending it to hundreds more children and adults with severe to profound deafness each year.

Reflecting on her time working for the Ear Foundation, Sarah said: “Seeing generations we have helped grow over three decades is fantastic.

“We have young adults who were with us from an early age who come back to train as a support worker helping children whose shoes they were once in.”

To celebrate the new lease of life that Isaac has been given and the key role that the Ear Foundation played in his rehabilitation, Sarah is raising money for the charity by completing a 15 mile run in the Vale of Belvoir.

The Ear Foundation, based in Lenton, has extensive facilities holding many Sound Advice groups for all ages. Photon credit: CPMG Architects

She has already raised £990 on Just Giving, £690 over her target and feels like a crazy person for setting herself this task after not having had a full night’s sleep in over two years.

She said: “They want to drive awareness and it’s perfect timing. It didn’t feel right just taking from them.

“It is really nice to give something back to the charity for the work they have done for our family and others.”

The charity is encouraging people to get involved with their #30for30 fundraiser, asking them to raise £30 for the charity with any loose change or get involved with other events they are running throughout the year.

The Ear Foundation’s #30for30 events:

Hear 4 Tea – Raise money for the charity by holding a tea/coffee morning throughout March

London Marathon 2019 – Sponsor one of 7 runners taking part in aid of the charity on Sunday, April 28

Pub Quiz – Sunday, May 12

For more information about these events and more to come visit their website at www.earfoundation.org.uk