Meet Ava Katuszonek, an adorable little three year old girl who was born with Microtia and Atresia of her right ear. Ava is a very happy little girl who enjoys playing with friends and is excited to learn the alphabet and begin reading. However, when Ava was about one year old, her mom, Shannon, began noticing her struggling with her hearing. Ava wasn’t always responding to Shannon’s voice when she would call for her. Two years ago, Ava and her parents, Paul and Shannon, attended an Ear Community Microtia and Atresia picnic in Pleasanton, California where they were given the opportunity to learn more about bone conduction hearing devices. Ava’s parents tried to obtain a BAHA for little Ava as soon as they could, but their insurance plan under Kaiser Permanente denied their coverage for a BAHA. Ava’s mother, Shannon, also did not realize there were many options available on the market for BAHAs. Now knowing this information, Ava’s parents continued appealing with their insurance provider in order to help Ava hear better with a BAHA.
Shortly after attending our Ear Community picnic in California (two years ago), Ava lost her father in a car accident. As you can imagine, this tragic loss devastated Ava and her entire family. “I remember receiving a call from Ava’s mother, Shannon, asking me if I had a picture that I had taken of the three of them at the picnic and if she could have a copy because she wanted to keep some recent memories of Paul,” said Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community. Although Shannon and Ava were able to receive temporary insurance coverage, the insurance coverage they had through this provider also did not provide coverage for a BAHA. “It has been very frustrating and challenging trying to obtain a BAHA for Ava,” says Shannon. Recently, Shannon and Ava moved to West Virginia and were able to find insurance coverage for their family again, but still no coverage for a BAHA for little Ava.
Shannon decided to apply to the Ear Community Organization for help obtaining a BAHA for Ava. On September 20, 2014, Ava was fitted with her new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus system. Shannon says, Ava just loves it and thinks it is so exciting and something special. Thank you to Dr. Regina Talbert in Bluefield, Virginia for helping program and fit Ava with her new processor. Thank you also to Lindzee Nunez Weeks of Oticon Medical for helping make sure Dr. Talbert had everything she needed for little Ava’s fitting!
“Sometimes I like to think someone is looking out for us, says Melissa Tumblin of Ear Community… and maybe that someone in Ava’s case was her father, Paul.” The Ear Community Organization is so very happy to have been able to help little Ava obtain a new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus system so she can hear everything clearly, everyday of her life. “Shannon has become an amazing friend of mine since meeting her, Paul, and Ava just two years ago. Shannon’s family not only enjoys giving back to the community when they can, but over the past couple of years, Shannon and her family have shown their support to Ear Community by choosing to donate to our organization. Just this past June, Shannon also hosted our Ear Community Pleasanton, CA picnic.” says Melissa Tumblin. Shannon says “It was an absolute honor to host the 2014 Ear Community picnic and something that I have wanted to do to help give back to the community and to an organization that has helped me and my family directly.”
Ear Community wishes to say a very special thank you to Alan Raffauf, Vice President of Marketing of Oticon Medical, for donating this hearing device to Ear Community so that the foundation could help Ava. Thank you for your support and for helping Ear Community continue with its mission of helping the Microtia and Atresia community. While the Ear Community organization is proud to have donated Ava’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.”
We are all so happy for you Ava! Hoping you have the brightest future from this day forward!
Founder and Executive Director of Ear Community
Ear Community Board of Director Members