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Tears of joy as service celebrates 15th birthday

Published:  11 November 2019

Monette and Robert Benett knew their son Gaberiel could hear for the first time when his little eyes lit up and he started to cry.

Gaberiel was born with profound hearing loss but a cochlear implant operation in March has brought sound into his life.

Today, Gaberiel will help the Townville Hospital audiology department, the biggest service in Queensland outside of Brisbane, celebrate its 15th birthday.

“Gaberiel failed his first newborn hearing screen and we had to come back again which is when we knew there was a problem,” Monette said.

“He was diagnosed with profound hearing loss and hearing aids weren’t working so he was booked in for a cochlear implant in March when he was 11 months old.

“It was scary, but all we could do was hope and pray that everything was going to be OK.

“The implants were switched on a few weeks later and his first reaction was to cry which was enough to tell us that he could hear.”

Monette said the early identification of the hearing problems had led to early treatment which had allowed the now 18-month-old to communicate.

“It is amazing how much you can take for granted when you don’t have to live with your child not being able to hear,” she said.

“Just being able to look at him and say ‘Go to Daddy’ and he trots over to Dad is just such a joy.

“He has also started using his words like ‘Mumma’, ‘baba’ and ‘up’.”

Paediatric Audiologist Sree Aithal said Townsville was the only place outside of Brisbane that delivers a comprehensive audiology service from screening to manage.

“It’s very fulfilling being able to provide a service to people that makes such a profound impact on their lives, as well as their loved one’s lives,” she said.

“Our cochlear implant program was established in 2016 and we’ve had 24 children have access to this revolutionary procedure.”

Sree said the service offers a childhood hearing clinic that offers medical investigation of hearing loss, speech pathology support, family support and referral to services to assist hearing.

Monette said she couldn’t be more thankful of the audiology team for comforting and supporting her during a difficult first year of Gaberiel’s life.

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