Meet Liza Orlovskaya, a beautiful and talented young lady who is 12 years old living in Moscow, Russia. Liza was born with bilateral Microtia and Atresia. Liza not only is a high achiever and enjoys going to school, but she competes in literary competitions and wins them. She also reads a lot and looks forward to spending time with her friends. However, it was becoming more and more difficult for Liza to communicate whenever she goes out in public, especially without having a hearing device to wear. Sadly, Liza’s mother, Aleksandra, explains that “Russian government has not yet created any programs or medical insurance to help children with Microtia and hearing loss.” “There just is not enough information about Microtia and Atresia here, in Russia.” It was also becoming more of a challenge for Liza to hear in the classroom as front row seating is not always helping her to hear better when the teachers walk about the classroom when speaking.
When Liza was born, Aleksandra, explains that “everyone in the hospital told me that I should leave her.” It was assumed that Liza would probably never talk and would most-likely have challenges with her communication. Of course, Aleksandra did not listen to what was said to her in the hospital. Aleksandra worked very hard in helping provide speech therapy to Liza throughout her life while growing up. In fact, over the years, some of Liza’s doctors had crushed their hopes and feelings as “some doctors do not ask about anything else and think that Liza does not have the ability to speak at all after seeing her little ears, says Aleksandra.” Some of Liza’s doctors in the past “have asked if she is able to go to the bathroom by herself” (humiliating Liza when she is practically a teenager) and some have stated that “she should not study in a (normal) school.” It was even suggested by one of the family’s doctors to “stop making any effort to help Liza because in his words “it was meaningless.” This same doctor even suggested that Aleksandra should consider making another healthy baby. Because of these experiences, Liza has been refusing to visit any doctors at all. The saddest recommendation for the family was to be told to institutionalize Liza in a school where she would be away from her parents. Since this kind of institution would have no speech at all and only communicate by sign language, “it is said that after having spent just one year there, Liza would lose her ability to speak normally, explains Aleksandra.”
In hopes of trying to find help for Liza, Aleksandra discovered the Microtia and Atresia Support Group on Facebook a little over one year ago and learned about the Ear Community Foundation, both founded by Melissa Tumblin, who has a daughter born with Microtia and Atresia. On March 4th, 2014, Liza was fitted with two brand new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus bone conduction hearing devices with streamer. The hearing device system was donated by Oticon Medical and awarded through the Ear Community Foundation. In a message to Melissa Tumblin, Aleksandra tells Melissa that “Liza sings all day long to the music through the Ponto Plus Streamer…the devices are amazing and we have shared lots of tears of joy over this experience!”
In order to help provide a second chance at a life of hearing for Liza, many individuals were involved in order to make this all possible. Thank you to Liza’s doctor, Dr. Nersesyan Marina, for referring her to an audiologist and recognizing that Liza could thrive in school if she were to be given the chance to wear a hearing device. A very special thank you to Dr. Anton Parshin who is Liza’s audiologist. Dr. Parshin donated his time and services to program Liza’s new processors and he helped educate her on how to use her new Ponto Plus system. A very special thank you to Alan Raffauf of Oticon Medical for donating these hearing devices to Ear Community so that the foundation could help Liza. Thank you to Sergey Petrov, who donated his time as a photographer, to help capture these amazing memories for Liza and Aleksandra and their family. Thank you also to one of Ear Community’s board of director members, Angela Sabal, for helping coach Aleksandra about how Ear Community could help Liza obtain a hearing device. And…thank you especially to Aleksandra who is an amazing mother who would not give up on her daughter and who continued to advocate for her even when being discouraged by several medical professionals. Only a mother’s love has made Liza the amazing and inspirational young woman she already is today.
While the Ear Community organization is proud to have donated Liza’s new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus System and soft band head band, none of this would have been possible without Oticon Medical donating this amazing hearing device to Ear Community to begin with. 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.”
“Not only has this experience been a positive one for Liza and her family, but it has instilled new hope once again in Liza regarding seeking help from medical professionals,” says Melissa Tumblin, Founder and Executive Director of Ear Community. “Liza’s story also shows us how important it is to give back and how rewarding it can be to help others around the world when in need,” says Melissa. “It is the stories like Liza’s that continue to keep my passion going for helping children and adutls born with Microtia and Atresia have a better a quality of life.” I hope you enjoy viewing some of Liza’s happy moments during her experience with her new Ponto Plus System, captured by Sergey Petrov.
Thank you always,
Founder and Executive Director of Ear Community
Ear Community Board of Director Members