Deaf Hayley Goddard heard her own laughter for the first time thanks to pioneering bionic ear surgery.
But as eight-year-old Hayley, from Portchester. explored her new world of sound, a row was brewing over funding for the costly cochlear implant operations.
Shirley Metherell, director of the Elizabeth Foundation for deaf children at Cosham, said the government should pay the full cost of the operation.
At the time, the government only contributed £6,000 – less than a third of the cost of one operation – towards the Portsmouth District Health Commission’s implant programme.
Shirley said: ‘The demand is going to grow as these operations become more widely available.
‘It’s unfair to expect the health commissions to find the funding.
The government should pick up a big part, if not the whole, of the cost.’
Cochlear implants restore a degree of hearing by transmitting sound from the outside world to the inner ear in the form of electrical impulses.