Help Hannah to hear

Tremaine van Aardt

AT only eleven months old, Hannah Marshall has a life story more unique than many adults.
Diagnosed as having severe hearing loss in both ears, as well as a condition called Nystagmus which causes her eyes to move back and forward involuntarily, Hannah is fighting daily for a better life.
When she was three months old, parents Mike and Cathrin  Marshall, Charlo residents, noticed their only child would not focus on things in front of her. Concerned, they sought medical opinion. It was then she was diagnosed with Pendular Nystagmus. To date, Hannah has had two MRIs, a CT scan and has had grommets put into both ears.
Cathrin said the diagnoses took them by surprise as nobody in their family had ever suffered from anything similar.
Their next concern was how they would deal with the exponential cost of cochlear implant surgeries to follow. But they decided they would do everything they could for their daughter.
“Realising we could never afford it on our own, we decided to establish the Helphannahhear foundation to give our daughter the life she deserves,” she said.
Visits to a Cape Town specialist confirmed Hannah would require cochlear implants in both ears. All the procedures taking place throughout 2011/2012 will cost the family close to a million rands.
Fortunately the family’s medical aid will cover R133 000 as well as her time spent in hospital. But the specialists who will be performing the operation are not covered by the medical aid.
Cochlear implants cost R180000 per ear; unilateral procedures R103000 per ear, and the operation itself costs R378000.
Because Hannah is so young, her bone on the outer-ear has not had time to fully develop. As a result the operation must be delayed by six months. After these six months have lapsed the surgeons will be forced to operate in order for her ears to grow into the implants.
Cathrin said according to surgeons, an alternative would be to enlarge the ear structure and then go through the bone.
“Hannah is only 11 months old so her ears are not fully developed as yet. The bone in her outer-ear is too fragile to pierce.
” So we are forced to either delay the operation for six months until her ears can handle the procedure or enlarge the structure. Once this is done we will be able to go through the newly developed bone,” she said.
Any form of donations or funding to help this feisty baby girl to experience the beauty of the world through all senses would be greatly appreciated. Hannah’s account and contact information can be found on

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