MOLLIE S. WATERS/THE GREENVILLE STANDARD
When new mom, Kairee Newton, held her daughter Jaylee Foster in her arms for the first time in 2012, she could not possibly imagine the journey she and her little girl would be embarking on in the years to come.
Before leaving the hospital with Jaylee, Newton was told the child had failed two hearing tests. Yet, she was also told not to worry because Jaylee could just have fluid in her ears. “As far as signs or symptoms, I didn’t notice anything,” said Newton, “other than nothing made her jump, nor did she cry at loud noises.”
The hospital referred Jaylee to Montgomery Otolaryngology for additional hearing testing, and again Jaylee failed her hearing tests. Based on what she was told by doctors, Newton understood that Jaylee had little to no hearing in both ears.
The road to helping her hear started then. “At three months old, Dr. Evans and Jane Lassiter fitted her with her first hearing aid,” said Newton. “Jaylee kept having ear infections though, so her pediatrician sent us to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.” At Children’s, Jaylee came under the care of Dr. Audie Woolley and his staff, who retested Jaylee and fitted her with another hearing aid when she was six months old.
Newton said after Jaylee was fitted with that hearing aid, she started Early Intervention, which is a program that lasts from the time the child is born until they are three years old. When Jaylee turned three, she became eligible for one cochlear hearing implant.
“After hearing all the stories about people who only got one implant at a time and talking to her doctors, I wanted the best for her,” said Newton, “so I started trying to figure out how I was going to pay for the other one.”
Newton said help to get the second implant came quite unexpectedly. “I have to give all credit to Songs for Sound, founded by Jaime Vernon from Nashville,” said Newton. “Vernon called us one day and told us about herself and the organization. She wanted to donate Jaylee’s other implant for free. It’s about a $40,000 device.
Without her help, Jaylee still wouldn’t hear today.” Jaylee underwent the cochlear implant surgery for both ears in June 2015. While Newton was concerned about having Jaylee put to sleep for the eight-hour long surgery, she said it was the right decision. “Jaylee is testing out now at a two-year, eleven-month old hearing range,” said Newton. “This is a lot better than children who only have one implant progress.”
Newton said Jaylee’s vocabulary is improving, and her prognosis is good. “Her vocabulary now is as normal as can be expected for someone who’s only been able to hear for one year,” said Newton. Newton said the surgery has helped Jaylee communicate much better, and she looks forward to seeing her daughter continue to improve.