Meet Lilly Byrd. This young spunky little girl was born with bilateral Microtia and Atresia and has one of the prettiest smiles on earth. When Lilly was eight months old, she had her first cleft palate repair. Things were better for a while, but the hole in the roof of her mouth opened again. She then had her second repair at two and a half years of age. “What an improvement!…Lilly could now eat and drink without everything coming out of her nose,” says her mom, Melissa Bryd. Lilly was also able to blow and make sounds she could never make before. Lilly does receive speech therapy services twice a week and her speech is improving everyday.
Lilly’s mother explains, “for the first six months of Lilly’s life, we tried to get her a BAHA…Lilly was deaf without it.” “We have Medicaid and they would not pay for a BAHA for Lilly.” Lilly’s parents even appealed and they still could not obtain a hearing device for their little girl who was unable to hear out of both of her ears. Thankfully, they were able to obtain a BAHA through another foundation. Recently, Lilly’s BAHA had to be sent in for servicing and she has been without her hearing device for a while now. “What happens when Lilly is in school as she gets older? How will she be able to communicate and learn in school without falling behind, when her BAHA is not working?” wonders Melissa Byrd. Thankfully, Melissa was able to find help from a very nice mother she met through one of the support groups who lent Lilly her son’s BAHA until she was able to get her own BAHA back from being serviced. “Without Facebook and Ear Community I don’t know what I would do.” says Melissa Bryd. “Melissa Tumblin was the first person I ever spoke to with a child with Microtia. Melissa was a God send! I finally knew I was not alone. More importantly, Lilly was not alone.” says Lilly’s mom. Angela Sabal, one of Ear Community’s Board of Director members, has also helped Lilly’s mom realize that her daughter, Lilly, will be fine in life, as she fast forwards a head in time and imagines how Lilly will get along in life as she gets older. Melissa says, “Angela and her very inspiring daughter, Sarah (who was also born with bilateral Microtia and Atresia and is now 12 years old), have helped me in ways they will never know. Through Sarah, I could see that Lilly could do anything she wants with her life. Angela made me realize how important it is for Lilly to hear bilaterally.”
“Ear Community is always thankful when we are given the opportunity to help a family in need, especially when our foundation can help a child hear better.” says Melissa Tumblin, the Founder and Executive Director of Ear Community. “Melissa Bryd and her little sweet daughter, Lilly, have been members of our support group for the past three years now (known as the Microtia and Atresia Support Group on Facebook).” “In addition to Melissa having luck on her side when finding a foundation to donate Lilly’s first BAHA or when meeting the mother mentioned above who was willing to lend Lilly her son’s BAHA temporarily or meeting Angela Sabal so that Lilly’s mom could see that her daughter would be just fine as she develops from a little bundle of joy into a young girl…There are many positive sources at work here in the community. It’s people and organizations coming together to help someone.” says Melissa Tumblin. Ear Community wishes to thank Lilly’s audiologist, Dr. Megan Watson of Asheville Head, Neck, and Ear, for donating her time and services to help program Lilly’s new Cochlear BP100 Baha and for helping fit her during her appointment. I would like to especially thank Bobbi Scheinin of Cochlear Americas for donating a new BP100 Baha to Ear Community so that the foundation can help children hear better like Lilly. “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.”
Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community
Ear Community Board of Directors