SMILING as if she hasn’t a care in the world, little Evie Small is blissfully unaware she’s just been through an operation that could change her life.
It was a race against time for 22-month-old Evie to have a bionic hearing aid fitted inside her skull.
Her parents David and Emily need to raise £60,000 for the operation by the world’s top specialist surgeon to allow their daughter the hope of hearing and, potentially, speech.
They have raised almost half the cash needed and the operation was completed last week. They have 18 months to raise the rest.
Despite a day in intensive care following the six-hour op, Evie is back, smiling and laughing, with her parents at her hospital bedside in Verona, Italy.
Mr Small, a 42-year-old solicitor from Horndean, said: ‘The operation went very well for her but it was a stressful time for us.
‘The surgeon Professor Vittorio Colletti said that of the 12 electrodes on the paddle on her brain 10 of them are working already.
‘Over the next few months we need that to build up to 12.
‘He described her as an amazing little lady. She is still quite weak but her spirit is strong. We are hoping she’ll be out of hospital by the end of the week but we have to stay in Italy because they need to do something called an EABR, to test the brain’s reaction.
‘Then they will wait four weeks to allow the brain bruising and swelling to go down before they actually switch on the auditory brainstem implant.’
Surgeons from across the globe were flown in to watch Evie’s operation being performed.
There were five other children having the same treatment – from Ecuador, America, Britain and Poland.
Mr Small added: ‘We’ve all become firm friends as we’re in the same boat. And the children certainly won’t want for somewhere to stay when they go on holiday.’
Evie has four siblings but is the only one with Goldenhar Syndrome which means she has no hearing, facial or balance nerves.
Her parents are balancing being at Evie’s side in Italy with flying back and forth to look after their other children.
To donate towards the cost of the operation go to hopeforhearing.co.uk.