Tears streamed down the face of Nehemia Doolabh as he saw his son Tylor Baker with his new prosthetic ears.
The 15-year-old was born without ears or ear canals and was the subject of a groundbreaking procedure at Groote Schuur Hospital which saw prosthetic ears being made for him.
“As a mother you ask for 10 fingers and 10 toes, you never ask for ears. It’s these things in life that make such a major difference. Study the body and ask for everything. Look how confident he looks,” said Deidre Doolabh as she glanced at her son in admiration.
Tylor received two prosthetic silicon ears and a bone-anchored hearing aid which enables him to now hear perfectly.
The prosthetic ears and surgery cost approximately R62 000, which was paid for by the Fuchs Foundation.
It took months of hard work and preparation by Groote Schuur ear, nose and throat surgeon Dr Estie Meyer, and a team of audiologists, nurses and doctors, before Tylor could get his new ears.
“They made a mould of his sister’s ear, using putty and made a mirror image of that, there were 5 000 other processes where they made it of silicone and took ages to get the right skin colour. It’s like an artwork to shade it in,” said Dr Meyer.
“There are three implants and a bigger stud at the back, that is the hearing aid. We drilled through his skull, attached the prosthetic ears, and implanted a bone-anchored hearing aid,” said Dr Meyer.
She said a conventional hearing aid would not have worked on Tylor because he did not have earlobes to attach it to and the only way for him to have constant hearing was by having the operation.
“The ears clip onto Tylor’s head and can be taken off when he goes to bed. This is the first time this was performed at Groote Schuur,” said Dr Meyer.
Tylor now has a renewed confidence and looks forward to buying his first pair of sunglasses which he could never wear before.
“People would stare at me. There were people making fun of me and laughing at me. Throughout the years I learnt to let it go. The future looks brighter for me now. At a young age I never thought this would happen,” said Tylor.
Ms Doolabh thanked the Fuchs Foundation for everything they did to assist the family and thanked Dr Meyer and the Groote Schuur team who helped change their family’s lives.