Child model Kennedy can hear clearly for first time

Kennedy Parkin with  Anna James, chief audiologist at Sheffield Children's Hospital
Kennedy Parkin with Anna James, chief audiologist at Sheffield Children's Hospital

A CHILD model from Sheffield who was born with part of her ear canal missing can hear clearly for the first time thanks to innovative treatment in the city.

Eight-year-old Kennedy Parkin now has sounds in both ears thanks to a special hearing aid fitted at the Children’s Hospital.

Her mum, Paula, said: “Kennedy’s life has been changed forever by this treatment. When her hearing aid was switched on for the first time, she was beaming as she was to be able to hear in her left ear for the first time.”

The youngster is one of the first patients in Sheffield to be fitted with a hearing aid which transmits sound through her skull and directly into her inner ear.

She was born with her left ear canal missing which meant that sounds could not get through to her inner ear and a conventional hearing aid would not work.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital is one of a handful of children’s centres in the UK offering the specialist hearing treatment to children like Kennedy – allowing them to hear sounds through their skull instead of the outer ear.

Doctors fixed a tiny peg into Kennedy’s skull behind her ear and then added a connecting button, to which a hearing aid is attached.

The Baha hearing aid works by transmitting the sound through the bone and directly to the inner ear which gives a normal sound and restores hearing.

Paula, aged 37, of Ecclesfield, said: “There’s a big difference in Kennedy’s life. Being in a group was problem in the past. Now she no longer struggles to hear instructions at her dance class and at school.

“Before she had to sit at the front of the class so she could hear the teacher. Now she’s able to sit with her friend at the back!”

Kennedy has brothers Kyle, 13, Dain, 15, and James, 20, is a pupil at Monteney Primary School and goes to the Maureen Law school of Dance in Chapeltown and the Rotherham School of Gymnastics.

Her modelling work has led to appearances in a sports equipment catalogue and on knitting patterns.

Before having the special hearing aid fitted, she had a trial involving a headband, which was only partly effective.

It was Kennedy herself, attending clinics at the Children’s Hospital, who opted for the full procedure.

“We left it to her,” said Paula, who is married to Danny, 40. “She is very mature and confident for her age. When she was ready, she decided to have it done and they did it very quickly.”

Anna James, chief audiologist at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Kennedy is one of the first patients at The Children’s Hospital, Sheffield, to have this treatment and she’s had a tremendously successful result.

“The procedure is only suitable for a group of patients with particular conditions who can’t wear conventional aids. It makes a big difference in helping children to reach their potential both educationally and socially.

“We’re delighted we’ve been able to help the family and change Kennedy’s life for the better.”