Cape Town – Born without ears, a Strand teenager became the first patient at Groote Schuur Hospital to have prosthetic ears attached on Thursday.
At two months old, Tylor Baker, now 15 years old, had 60% hearing ability, his mother Deidre Doolabh said. Tylor was born without ear canals, too, and he had difficulty trying to communicate.
Tylor's prosthetic ears and surgery cost roughly R62 000, which the Fuchs Foundation sponsored.
Grooter Schuur ear, nose and throat surgeon Estie Meyer said a team of audiologists, nurses and doctors performed the procedure. It took a Bloemfontein doctor about two days to make Tylor's prosthetics, which took half-an-hour to attach, she added.
Tylor said people stared and made fun of him for not having ears, but with time he managed to cope.
He and his parents were quite emotional after on Thursday’s operation.
“The future looks brighter for me now. At a young age I never thought this would happen,” said Tylor, adding that he was grateful for his parents’ support. He advised families in similar situations to not give up hope.
“For a family like us that have gone through this, parents should never expect too little from them. People like us have the ability to do anything we want,” Tylor said.
He also thanked his sister, Ha-Lee, who he described as someone he could talk to in times of need. “She would give me the confidence to tell my parents to say what’s happening,” Tylor said.
Ha-Lee also helped teach him to speak when they were younger.
Their mother said that when Tylor didn’t want to interact with a speech therapist, Ha-Lee would play games with him to help him articulate words.
Tylor's father, Nehemia Doolabh, said he always drew strength from the person his son became.
“I can very proudly say that this young man standing here next to me is my hero,” Nehemia said.