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press release: Boston-based Gift of Hearing Foundation makes Lowell Child's Christmas Very Merry Indeed!

December 8, 2006:  
Seven-year old Troy Nguyen of Lowell, Massachusetts is counting off the days until Tuesday, December 12, 2006 when he will receive “his new ear” as he calls it. Troy, who is deaf, is the latest recipient of a new Behind-the-Ear (BTE) speech processor from the newly founded Gift of Hearing Foundation (GOHF), an organization formed to create access to cochlear implants (CIs) to deaf children and adults. The Foundation will be awarding Troy’s processor in a ceremony held on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006 at the S. Christa McAuliffe School Library, 570 Beacon Street, in Lowell, Massachusetts at 9:30 am EST.

When he was two years old, Troy received a cochlear implant. This technology is equivalent to a bionic ear where a stimulator and electrode array was surgically implanted in Troy’s skull and inner ear. He uses an external speech processor that sends sound information to the internal components, which in turn, stimulate his auditory nerve. The CI miraculously gave Troy the ability to hear and learn to speak. However, being a “body-worn” speech processor with a wire that runs from the waist to the head, it restricted Troy from the day-to-day activities of other children his age. Troy’s body-worn processor was also an older model, which was introduced almost ten years ago.

Troy’s mother Susan stated: “Troy is great playing with other kids; he enjoys being around them. But at his age where he is getting self-conscious about his cochlear implant - he’ll wear (one) shirt over another so his implant (body-worn processor) won’t show. He reminds me most mornings if I forget to give him an extra shirt.” MassHealth, which provides insurance coverage for about 20% of all children who use CI’s in Massachusetts, will pay for the fitting of the better-sounding and more comfortable behind-the-ear speech processor, but does not reimburse the clinic or family for the processor itself, which costs close to $7000.

Troy’s mother along with Troy’s Cochlear Implant Consultant, Dorothy Eisenhaure, M.Ed ccc/slp, heard of the GOHF and with the help of Troy’s team at Children’s Hospital Boston, they submitted an application for assistance to the Foundation. Troy was then selected to receive a BTE processor, which will be presented to him on Tuesday.

As a surprise for Troy, GOHF board member Tomas Scheckter of Indy Race League fame (who raced for Vision Racing during the '06 season) will send autographed racing mementos to present to Troy along with his BTE. Scheckter joined the board after seeing the miraculous benefits his cousin Jaki enjoyed from his bi-lateral cochlear implants. Board member State Representative Jamie Eldridge will also be at the ceremony and will discuss the need for Massachusetts Health changes in coverage so that the multitude of other children – and adults-- with CI’s in the Greater Boston area might also receive the same benefits.”

“There are over 50 cases similar to Troy’s in the state.” says Eldridge, a long-time proponent of Massachusetts Health reform. “And this gap needs to be addressed by organizations other than small non-profits. Deaf individuals should have access to technological improvements so that they can hear as best as possible and participate in daily life as fully as possible.

GOHF Founder Eileen Jones says, “We expect Troy’s support system of teachers, CI professionals and therapists, as well as area Legislators and school officials to attend the ceremony. Not one wants to miss seeing the look on young Troy’s face as he opens his “new ear” and puts it on – freeing him from a body pack and wires forever. Merry Christmas, Troy!”

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