WATCH gorgeous reaction of boy hearing his mother for the first time since meningitis

Must See 25/02/2019

A toddler has been given the chance to hear again, just weeks after meningitis left him permanently deaf.

The Hearing House Charity works with hundreds of children, making sure they learn to listen and speak like their peers.

This weekend was the first time Emerson Hand has heard in six weeks after he contracted meningitis. He's been fitted with cochlear implants, and they've already made a huge impact.

"I watched him lose his hearing and I noticed when he didn't respond to me," mum Willa Hand told Newshub. "To be here and for him to hear again is emotional, and I'm very, very grateful."

Emerson's first words were heartwarming - he said "mama".

The audiologist gradually turned up the sound, and it's not long before Emerson did the same.

"With a cochlear implant, a child's never going to hear in the same way that somebody with normal hearing can hear," audiologist Robyn Moriarty explained.

"People normally say to us 'it's beeping', and then it suddenly becomes a beeping robot, and then suddenly we all become like Mickey Mouse."

The implant replaces the function of the damaged inner ear, enabling the sound to be transferred to the hearing nerves. A processor captures sound and turns it into digital code.

"The devices we have now work so well, they're getting smaller all the time," said Holly Teagle, clinical director of The Hearing House.

"They're getting more sophisticated, they can interface with Bluetooth, you can stream to them."

With a bit of support and therapy, children like Emerson can go on to live a normal life.

The majority of children are funded for cochlear implants, but Associate Professor Holly Teagle says adults can benefit too and would like government funding and insurance to cover it.

There are two charities which work with people with cochlear implants, The Hearing House in the north and the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme in the south.

World Cochlear Implant Day is on Monday, February 25.