A LEEDS girl who was profoundly deaf before cochlear implants transformed her life has travelled to Africa to help as her surgeons give more deaf children the gift of hearing.
Georgia Green, 15, of Rawdon, was born completely deaf and could not hear or speak a word until after her first cochlear implant in her right ear when she was two-years-old.
The operation was carried out at Bradford Royal Infirmary by surgeon Christopher Raine.
At five-years-old, Georgia had a second cochlear implant in her left ear in a operation performed by surgeon David Strachan.
Georgia and her mother Sam travelled to Malawi at the weekend with Mr Strachan and Mr Raine, who will carry out cochlear implants during the 12-day trip on children who have lost their hearing due to illness or disease.
Georgia, a pupil at Benton Park School in Rawdon, is acting as an ambassador on the trip.
A YouTube video called ‘Georgia to Malawi’ was produced by Mint at www.designbymint.com/
Georgia said on the video: “I want to show parents and their families how successful these implants are because it has had such a great life-changing impact on myself.
“I want to say to parents their child will have an amazing life once they have had these implants.”
Georgia’s mum Sam Green said: “She is like a walking miracle – her life has been completely transformed.
“When she was born she was completely deaf, she couldn’t hear anything.”
“It was awful, we were really sad for Georgia. When you first get the diagnosis you think how on earth is she going to be able to speak.
“We were beside ourselves, we were so upset for her.
“We started to learn to sign so she had communication skills and she started to learn some sign language.”
“She had tried to say words like mummy but because she hadn’t heard the word she couldn’t say it until she could hear.
“It was absolutely mind blowing when she could say mummy when she was three.
“Her speech came on so fast that by the time she was five she was able to go to mainstream school and had dropped most of the signing she had learned because she didn’t need it anymore.”
Mrs Green said Georgia can now speak and hear perfectly well and can even spot the difference between an original Abba song and a Mamma Mia version on the radio.
She said: “No-one would know she is deaf.”
Surgeon David Strachan said more than 1,000 cochlear implant operations have been performed at Bradford Royal Infirmary since 1990.
Mr Strachan has been performing the operations for the past 18 years and now carries out more than 100 per year.
The consultant said: “It has become the standard care now for children that are born deaf.”
Mr Strachan has made numerous visits to Malawi and first went to the in southern Africa country five years ago.
He found there was only one ear, nose and throat surgeon for 18 million people.
He hopes to perform two or three cochlear implants on deaf children in Malawi during the latest trip.
The operations, which cost around £15,000 each, are being sponsored by a company called MED-EL.
Mr Strachan said: “Georgia is keen to help. We always see the parents before we do the implants and Georgia wants to be there as an example of how well she has done 10-years on.
“She has had the gift of hearing and she wants to give something back in a country that is incredibly poor and where people have very little.”
Mr Strachan said the first cochlear implant was carried out in the UK in 1988.
The first cochlear implant was carried out at Bradford Royal in Infirmary in 1990. The hospital is home to The Yorkshire Auditory Implant Service.
Georgia wears a hearing aid-type device which is attached to a coil that turns sound into vibrations.
A receiver implanted in the cochlea stimulates the auditory nerve, which is interpreted by the brain as sounds.
The connections to the implant are turned off when Georgia sleeps, has a bath or shower or goes swimming.
Georgia’s mother Sam Green helped relaunch the Leeds Deaf Children’s Society and is now chair of the organisation.