Meet Emilia Drago from Geismar, Louisiana. Emilia is a beautiful one and a half year old little girl who was born with Microtia and Atresia of her right ear and mild hemifacial microsomia. When Emilia was born, doctors did not know what to tell her parents regarding her being born with Microtia and Atresia. Doctors did tell Emilia’s parents, Cody and Amanda, that her microtic ear should unfold after being squished in the womb, which was not the case.
Over the first year of Emilia’s life, Emilia’s parents took her to a number of medical specialists to see how they could help Emilia thrive and get answers. Emilia’s parents did eventually discover that Emilia could not hear well through the results from her ABR. Emilia has a moderate to severe hearing loss and Emilia’s mother, Amanda, noticed that Emilia startles easy when she hears sounds and then acts frightened while she looks around for the sounds as she does not seem to know where they are coming from. After discovering that Emilia has hearing loss, Amanda was advised about how a bone anchored hearing device could help Emilia hear better. Amanda was also advised to enroll Emilia into speech therapy when she begins school and to help with sign.
After Emilia was given the opportunity to trial an Oticon Medical BAHS on a softband at her audiologist’s office, Amanda and Cody Drago “had an emotional day watching [their] daughter’s sense of direction improve instantly. [They] were astounded by Emilia’s ability to find the source of sounds like never before. They were instantly sold on the idea of a hearing device.” Unfortunately, the idea of obtaining a hearing device for little Emilia fell apart when the family was advised by Emilia’s audiologist that anyone without Medicaid should order via a third party company called Sunmed Medical. After quickly placing their order for a BAHS for Emilia, Amanda and Cody were denied over the phone as Sunmed did not work with Aetna. This left the family without insurance coverage for Emilia’s BAHS and not enough money to be able to purchase a hearing device out of pocket. Fortunately they found the Ear Community Organization, a nonprofit organization that helps children and adults obtain new hearing devices who were born with Microtia and Atresia.
On June 17th, 2016, Emilia was fitted with her new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus BAHS on a soft band head band with streaming device at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by Dr. Dori Cormier. Emilia’s mom, Amanda, explains that since getting home from Emilia’s audiology appointment, she has noticed how Emilia is looking around more at the sounds she hears and how Emilia doesn’t seem to mind her new Ponto Plus and in fact, is wearing it often throughout the days. Amanda also explained that she is not overwhelmed by all the information provided on how the Ponto Plus works and is very excited how it will help Emilia hear better, especially as she gets older and begins school. The Drago family is very grateful to the Ear Community Organization and for all of the support the family has received from Ear Community’s amazing group of microtia families on its online support group, the Microtia and Atresia Support Group on Facebook.
A very special thank you to Alan Raffauf, Vice President of Marketing for Oticon Medical US, for choosing to donate the new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus hearing device w/streamer to Ear Community so that it could be donated to Emilia to help her hear better during the critical years of development. As a tribute to Curt Gorman, Oticon Medical’s past president, who passed away last August, may Emilia thrive in the hearing world with her new hearing device and never miss a beat as she continues to grow. Curt Gorman had a passion for helping children hear better as he was a pioneer in the hearing device industry, especially for bone anchored hearing devices. Thank you for everyone’s support and for helping Ear Community continue with its mission of helping individuals with Microtia and Atresia.Oticon Medical believes in helping individuals with hearing loss so that they can live a better quality of life. Oticon Medical is a well respected international hearing device manufacturer that is a part of the “William Demant Group [which has] 100-plus years of experience in audiology and sound processing and established manufacturing and logistics infrastructure.”
Congratulations to hearing so much better now Emilia! All of us here at Ear Community are excited for you to discover the sounds of life and music and laughter as you grow!
Melissa Tumblin (Ear Community Founder)
Ear Community Board Members