Meet Eliana Villanueva, a beautiful three year old little girl who was born with Microtia and Atresia of her right ear who lives in Riverbank, California. Eliana enjoys playing with her older brother and sister (Joey and Samantha) and is proud to be a mama’s girl, says her mother, Veronica. Eliana is also a very kind and loving child who just loves playing with her younger cousins.
Two years ago, Eliana’s parents, Veronica and Santiago, found Ear Community and had attended the organization’s picnic for Microtia and Atresia families in Pleasanton, CA. While at the Ear Community picnic, Eliana had the chance to try on a BAHA for the first time, but Eliana was too young to express what she thought about the BAHA at the time. However, Eliana’s mother says that “she knew the hearing device was working when it was on Eliana because her eyes got glossy and it looked like she wanted to cry.” Over the next couple of years as Eliana’s vocabulary developed, Santiago and Veronica decided that Eliana may now be ready for a BAHA as they could see her struggle lately with her hearing. When Santiago and Veronica heard that an Ear Community picnic was coming back to Pleasanton, CA again this summer (2014), they knew they had to take Eliana again because she was now old enough to express verbally what she would think about trying on a BAHA. When Veronica and Eliana arrived at the Ear Community picnic, they went straight to the table and stood in line to put a BAHA on. Veronica says “Eliana’s reaction was priceless! I asked her if she could hear and she said yes. Was it loud or was it perfect and Eliana said it was perfect.” This was the moment when Veroinica knew they had to try again to get Eliana a soft band BAHA. When Eliana got home, she told her father, Santiago, all about the “noise maker” that she had on her head and how much she wanted one.
During the past year, Eliana’s parents had inquired about the Cochlear Baha 4 through their audiologist. Unfortunately, the family was denied insurance coverage for the device and the cost of a Baha was beyond what the family could afford. They were encouraged to apply again through the appeals process and were still denied by Kaiser. Veronica decided to apply to Ear Community for help on behalf of little Eliana. On August, 28th, Eliana was fitted with a new Cochlear Baha 4 processor. On the way driving to the audiology office, Veronica said that Eliana kept singing a song in the car on the way “I’m gonna get my hearing aid, I’m gonna get my hearing aid.” It was a joyous day for Eliana and her whole family!
Since Ear Community was able to help Eliana obtain a hearing device, Veronica and Santiago have become supporters to Ear Community. As part of a thank you to the Ear Community Organization, Santiago (Eliana’s father) took the ice bucket challenge, but decided to make their donation to Ear Community, for children and adults born with Microtia and Atresia. Ear Community Founder and Executive Director, Melissa Tumblin, thanks the Villanueva family for giving back to the Microtia and Atresia community through Ear Community. “We are so very happy that we could help little Eliana hear better and that you were able to learn about a BAHA through our family events,” says Melissa. Here is the link to the video of Eliana singing in the car about getting her Baha 4! https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=4780912217443&set=vb.1734811718&type=2&theater
Ear Community is a nonprofit organization that helps the Microtia and Atresia community worldwide. Ear Community is so very thankful for the help that it receives and when other organizations come together to help Ear Community with its mission, to help children and adults born with Microtia and Atresia. Thank you to Cochlear Americas for helping little Eliana hear better and for donating a new Baha 4 processor to her so she can thrive in school,” says Melissa Tumblin.
A special thank you to Dr. Jennifer Hayes and Dr. Marilyn Dixon-Brown, both audiologists of Kaiser Permanente for volunteering their time and services to program Eliana’s new Cochlear Baha 4 processor.
Ear Community would especially like to thank Kerri Lewandowski and Joanne Kernie of Cochlear Americas for donating a new Baha 4 to our foundation so our foundation could help another child like Eliana hear better. “Cochlear is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. It has a dedicated global team of more than 2,500 people who deliver the gift of sound to those with hearing loss in over 100 countries. Its vision is to connect people, young and old, to a world of sound by offering life enhancing hearing solutions. In 2013, Cochlear celebrates 100,000 Baha System users – all with unique stories of how being able to hear again has impacted their lives. The Cochlear promise of “Hear Now. And Always” embodies the company’s commitment to providing its recipients with the best possible hearing performance today and for the rest of their lives.”
Here’s to hearing everything a child should hear Eliana! Enjoy your new Cochlear Baha 4! All of us here at Ear Community are so happy for you!
Founder and Executive Director of Ear Community