Retreat parents Abigail and Ryan Arendse are appealing for assistance for cochlear implants for their 3-year-old daughter, Elle. They are able to afford costs of the operation but not the device itself which costs around R300 000. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Retreat parents Abigail and Ryan Arendse are appealing for assistance for cochlear implants for their 3-year-old daughter, Elle. They are able to afford costs of the operation but not the device itself which costs around R300 000. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Retreat couple plead for help so their daughter can hear

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Apr 7, 2021

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Cape Town - A Retreat couple is requesting assistance in providing their 3-year-old daughter with the ability to hear.

Elle Arendse was fitted with hearing aids at just five months old, after it was discovered she had bilateral “moderate to severe” hearing loss.

Parents Abigail and Ryan said that, although she was now “deeply attached” to her hearing aids, they were informed by specialists that her hearing was deteriorating and could result in profound deafness.

Elle attends the Carel du Toit Centre at Tygerberg Hospital for young children with hearing impairments, and was informed of the decline and the need for cochlear implants.

The strong-willed and independent toddler is now being prepared for the anticipated move to cochlear implants.

“At Carel du Toit, they do regular testing, I think about twice a month. They just test you to see how the loss is and what's happening, and I think it was in October we had a case discussion where we met the audiologist, teacher and the team, and her audiologist said her test had shown that its deteriorating.

“Her hearing aids have already been set to the loudest, so after this her hearing aids won't be sufficient and then the only thing else is the cochlear implants, which is like the last resort,” said Abigail.

The pair now need to raise around R300 000 to cover the cost of one cochlear device and medical costs attached. The implants will assist not only with Elle’s hearing but with her speech development, now already affected by years of poor hearing. The parents were told that the cost of one implant would be covered, but funds were required for the other.

Abigail has been working at a school for deaf persons since 2013, and said this helped better prepare her for the journey ahead.

“Initially I was sad, I was heartbroken, but then seeing the kids at my school, I know kids who have cochlear implants, and the potential future you can have. I think after that I was like, it's just another step, it's just something that we’re going to overcome.”

Ryan said that although strong during the first few months, he broke down after the birth of their youngest daughter, Nova, and seeing how vastly different her and Elle’s hearing journeys were.

“When I really thought about it, how well Nova can hear versus how Elle can hear, one day I just broke down because I really want that for her as well.

“I just want her to hear the way Nova hears, and I even said to Abigail many times, I would give up my hearing so that she can hear if it was possible. I just want her to also experience life like all the other kids, hear the birds and the music and things like that.”

A BackaBuddy campaign, “Give Elle the gift of hearing”, has been set up where donations can be made.

Cape Argus

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