Plymouth toddler will get his hearing back on Valentine's Day
A TODDLER who was left deaf after falling ill with meningitis is set to have his hearing restored.
Two-year-old Kenny Rapson, from West Park, was struck down with meningococcal meningitis at the end of December which left him unable to hear.
He has now had a cochlear implant fitted, a small electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a deaf person, which will allow him to hear again.
His mum Jane Rapson, 39, described the day she was told her youngest son was deaf as being like "the end of the world".
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But the family are now looking to the future after being told Kenny will have his cochlear implant, which he recently had fitted, switched on during Valentine's Day.
The mum of three said: "I can't wait for the switch-on. It will be the best Valentine's Day present ever – certainly one I will never forget.
"At one stage I felt like it was the end of the world. When they told us Kenny was deaf I was crying and in a complete state. I'm that person that always reminds people there are others worse off but on that day I was so angry at the world.
"But Kenny could have died, or lost limbs as a result of the meningitis, and he didn't. This hearing implant is the light at the end of the tunnel. But more than anything we are just so thankful that our little darling is still here."
Jane and her husband, also called Kenny, originally thought their son had the highly-contagious winter-vomiting bug norovirus when he became ill on December 14.
Jane said: "Kenny couldn't keep any food or liquid down and had a high temperature which we kept at bay with Calpol. But on the Sunday morning my seven-year-old son Max came to get me and said Kenny had collapsed face down. My husband ran up and scooped him off the floor but he was lifeless and his head, arms and legs were just dangling."
The couple took their son straight to hospital where he was put on a drip for dehydration.
Jane said: "The next morning Kenny had ripped his drip out so they put another one in and also took him for an ultrasound of his stomach which showed he had a full bladder. As the day went on he got worse and he was taken for a brain scan and later moved to the high dependency unit."
Doctors at Derriford Hospital performed a lumbar puncture which confirmed Kenny had bacterial meningitis. He was then put on a strong dose of antibiotics administered through a drip every 24 hours for 30 minutes.
Jane said: "I was in such a state. I couldn't believe it. He didn't have a rash or any of the typical signs. He just had four tiny spots on his forehead.
"The doctors told us that had if it been another 12 hours down the line it would have been a different story. We just felt so lucky he had been diagnosed."
Kenny, who was released from hospital two days before Christmas, was diagnosed as deaf on Jan 2 following a hearing test, and 13 days later he underwent surgery to have a cochlear implant fitted at the Bristol Royal Children's Hospital.
He has since had to learn how to walk again as his body adapts to balancing with the use of his eyes, rather than his ears.
Jane said: "We are also all learning sign language now because there will be times such as at night, or in the swimming pool, when Kenny won't be able to wear the implant so he will be deaf.
"But Kenny has just glided through all this. He's been a little darling throughout and I can't wait for him to have the implant switched on now.
"I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone for all their support throughout all of this."
A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that helps people hear. It can be used for people who are deaf or very hard of hearing.
The implant is not the same thing as a hearing aid because it is surgically implanted and works in a different way.
One part of the device is surgically implanted into the bone surrounding the ear second part of the cochlear implant is an outside device made up of a microphone/receiver, a speech processor, and an antenna. This part of the implant receives the sound, converts the sound into an electrical signal, and sends it to the inside part of the cochlear implant so the person can hear.