Belfast Telegraph

Irish boy jets out to UK for 'bionic ear'

By Ralph Riegel

An Irish boy has jetted out to the UK to undergo a 'bionic' ear implant -- with his parents admitting they are overwhelmed by the incredible support shown to them by Irish children nationwide.

Calum Geary (3) -- the son of Andrew and Helen Geary -- was born without any hearing nerves in his ears.

Tomorrow he undergoes a revolutionary operation in Manchester University Hospital that aims to restore his hearing.

He flew out to Manchester from Cork at the weekend -- and faces a five-week stay in the UK before having to attend months of speech therapy in the US.

Calum's father, Andrew, told the Irish Independent that a support fund set up for their son had already been flooded with donations and offers of help -- and Calum was astonished to receive a special letter of support from youngsters in a Dublin primary school.

"An eight-year-old girl called Lily heard about Calum's situation and decided to fundraise for him," Mr Geary said.

Aisling McNiffe, a teacher at Notre Dame Junior School in Churchtown, Dublin, saw her entire 18-strong class organise a cake sale for Calum -- and then send him a letter wishing him a speedy recovery. Mr Geary was astonished to discover that the entire campaign was started by Lily.

To date, just 140 children worldwide have undergone the implant, which links the ear to the brainstem and provides near-normal hearing.

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