Jan 2018 Daily Echo
Life-changing implants have allowed a Southampton toddler to hear for the first time. Coco-Cathleen Willcox was born with a rare condition which left her deaf but this week the three-year-old’s cochlear implants were switched on and her world changed. Experts at Southampton University Auditory Implant Service watched the girl’s reactions as she played and saw her eyes light up as she banged a toy drum and heard the results. Mum Megan-Marie Willcox, 25 said: “She’s done really well and we’re really proud of her. It’s amazing considering she hasn’t been able to hear for the last three years.”
Coco was born with congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV), a disease which is harmless to most and shows no symptoms in 90 percent of children born with it. However, for one in ten, the virus can lead to severe hearing and visual impairment if left untreated. In addition to her hearing, Coco is very short-sighted and may be autistic and epileptic, although it is too early to tell. Megan Willcox said: “When Coco was born she was jaundiced and very, very small.” Despite being tested for CMV days after her birth, doctors failed to diagnose Coco’s condition until she was two. Following tests in May 2017, Megan was told Coco was not a suitable recipient for implants, however, Coco was then referred to St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where experts decided otherwise.
Last month the first of her cochlear implants was inserted by surgeons at Queen Alexandra in Portsmouth.
Coco was originally scheduled to have both implants fitted but five hours into the eight-hour procedure surgeons were forced to stop when Coco’s lungs filled with fluid. Coco is now scheduled to have her second implant fitted in February.
Megan said: “She has gone through so much, at times it was heartbreaking. We still have to go back to have the other one put in and have them tweaked to find the right frequency, but finally, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”