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From the bottom of her ear

June 27, 2019

In 2015 Tamara Donnelly experienced the best day of her life, the birth of her first child, Mackenzie Jane. All too quickly this beautiful moment would be disrupted by confusion and anxiety, as her little girl failed her first newborn hearing test, then her second.

Sent home to wait for information Tamara couldn’t help but notice that her baby didn’t respond to slamming doors or her dad, Chris, speaking loudly.

A few anxious days passed then Tamara received a letter. In print it simply stated that additional testing had confirmed that baby Mackenzie was profoundly deaf on both sides.

“I was so in love with her,” says Tamara, “but where to from here?” She searched for as much information as she could on Google.

It wasn’t until speaking with a family friend whose son was born deaf and was thriving with cochlear implants that Tamara felt she could connect the dots. 

Proactively, she got her local GP to refer her to Dr Benjamin Weir, who then referred her to the Eye and Ear Cochlear Implant Clinic. The experience at the clinic was far removed from that first confronting letter. “Everyone was so nice and reassuring and really thorough in telling us what was going on,” says Tamara.

It was at the Cochlear Implant Clinic that little Mackenzie began her journey towards receiving the gift of hearing. It was also here that Tamara began documenting the process so other parents could find a human face for what they were going through. The “From the bottom of my ear” Facebook page details Mackenzie’s appointments, check-ups and procedures.

“It started for family and friends, just to keep them informed,” says Tamara. “Then I thought if I could help just one person who’d gone through what I’d been through, then that would be great.”

Mackenzie was approved for her first implant at just over a year old in 2016. She received her second in 2018. Her recovery has been an overwhelming success.

Mackenzie is now four and testing in speech therapy at levels similar to those of her peers. She is cheeky, energetic and confident. She has attends kinder at a mainstream school and is determined she will become “a baby doctor” one day (paediatrician).

Most recently, Mackenzie, Tamara and Chris visited the Gold Coast where Mackenzie thoroughly enjoyed her first swim in three years with her new waterproof cochlear covers.

As she continues to succeed the “From the bottom of my ear” purpose has also changed. Now it is an inspiring story of a little girl held back by nothing. As Tamara says: “Anything is possible for her. We just want to give her the best life we can, that’s our aim."

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