By NATALIE GALLENTI
WHEN Louise and Jeremy Rogerson first saw their newborn son’s tiny ear just moments after he was born, they were immediately concerned.
The Hillside couple already had one child and knew there was something wrong with little Xander.
An audiologist made the immediate diagnosis of Microtia and Atresia affecting his left ear, meaning there is no ear canal or ear drum and Xander suffers from severe hearing loss.
They were told that the abnormality occurred during Louise’s pregnancy and only affects one in 6000 to 12,000 people.
“We had no idea what is was … we were pretty worried and didn’t know what it would mean for the rest of his body,” Louise told Star.
To make life even harder for the three-year-old, he was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder that, compounded with his hearing loss and speech difficulties, often leaves him frustrated and angry.
“It’s hard to see it as a parent … he’s about six months behind where he should be.
“His baby sister speaks better than he does.”
Despite all of this, the family continues to try to make life as normal as possible for the pre-schooler with a “quirky” personality, including stints at day care and swimming lessons. But they realise life will become more challenging when he attends kindergarten and school.
“In a classroom situation or somewhere noisy like a shopping centre, he can’t hear anything. He wears a hearing aid and that has made a huge difference … but it’s still hard.
“We constantly have doctor appointments … the main goal is for him to hear before school.”
And that might happen after the family met with doctors from the United States who are able to create a complete new ear, ear canal and ear drum, so he will have not only an ear visually, but hearing on the left side as well.
The operation can be completed in the one day, but can only be performed in the US and will require a four to six-week recovery process, leaving the family faced with a $100,000 medical bill.
But there’s nothing they would not do for their precious child.
“I love that little ear, I will miss it, but I want to prevent any bullying, in this day and age it shouldn’t happen, but realistically it will.
“We need to know we’ve given him the best chance in life. There’s no length we wouldn’t go to for him.
“He will be a totally different person … he will thrive.”
The working parents also have a long list of doctors and specialist appointments they attend with Xander each month which also puts a financial strain on them.
A trivia night on Saturday 30 November at the Altona Hockey Club has been organised to help raise funds for the operation.
Anyone interested in learning more about Xander’s plight or to make a donation visit www.pandasear.org.au or www.facebook.com.au/pandasear.