Sean Fetters: Bone-Anchored Hearing Appliance & Ear Prosthesis

When you’re born missing an outer ear, you learn early to ignore the stares of curious strangers. But hearing at only 30 percent of normal from his right side was a problem that Sean Fetters of Spokane, WA, couldn’t ignore – not when it interfered with his ability to perform at maximum efficiency in his job as an intensive care unit nurse.

Through a Patient Care Grant partnership between the Foundation and the Spokane Central Lions Club, that problem is now history for Sean. He became the second BAHA (bone-anchored hearing appliance) recipient ever at the University of Washington Medical Center. In an expensive procedure, doctors implanted a titanium post in the mastoid bone above Sean’s ear. A processor snaps onto the post to catch the sound vibrations that are conducted through the bone and send them to the inner ear. A “click on” silicone prosthetic ear that Sean will receive soon will add the cosmetic finishing touch.

The ability to hear clearly when multiple situations are occurring all around him in intensive care will make Sean an even better nurse. Socializing at the church where he and his wife are active will be easier, as will keeping tabs on their young son.

“With background noise present, I really was deaf in my right ear,” said Sean. “I can’t thank the Lions enough for making my life better in so many ways.”

Sawyer & Tess Griffin: New Hearing Aids

Hearing loss isn’t hereditary. As parents of a hard-of-hearing child, Christine Griffin and husband Steve knew this. That’s why neither could believe their ears when doctors told them that Tess had followed in her brother’s footsteps by being born with significant hearing loss. The odds against this happening are astronomical.

The odds that caring people would step forward to help through a Patient Care Grant partnership between the Foundation and the Bellingham Central Lions Club? Much, much better. More than $4,600 of help later, the Griffin family and the Lions have developed a mutual admiration society.

Fred June of Bellingham Central can’t think of a single higher use for his Club’s half of the cost than to invest it in a family like the Griffins. “This is a single-income family with all the same expenses that the rest of us have, plus the cost of all this extra care for the kids. They deserve all the help we can give them.”

Says Christine, “I was surprised when I found out the Lions could help us. Also relieved because our insurance through Steve’s work doesn’t cover hearing aids. Your help changed Sawyer and Tess’s lives. We are so indebted to your cause.”

Erma Swift: Hearing Aid Program Recipient

For Erma, the face of compassion is Carolyn Harestad, owner of two private speech and hearing centers and part of the Federal Way Noon Lions Club. Upon learning of Erma’s trouble, Carolyn freely donated many of her own services and asked her Club to sponsor Erma through the Hearing Aid Program. They partnered with the Northwest Lions Foundation to share costs of recalibrating and recasing two high-powered aids to fit Erma’s exact needs.

In Erma’s case, the improvement in the quality of her life can’t be measured in dollars. “Without the aids it felt like I was in a tunnel,” she says. “Now not only am I able to talk with people again, but these are the nicest aids I’ve ever had. I can’t thank the Lions enough!”

I live on social security, and when my old hearing aids wore out, I could never have afforded to replace them. When I look at the prices of hearing aids, I tell myself, ‘Thank God for people like the Lions.” – Erma Swift

Denver Gordon: Hearing Aid Program Recipient

What if you couldn’t hear to do your work? How about to play with your children? What if you lived where you had no hope of receiving help? What if an audiology student in America found out about your plight?

That’s exactly what happened for C. Denver Gordon of Belize. Thanks to the sister of a PhD Audiology student at the University of Washington, Denver received the hearing aids he desperately needed.

I am so thankful I don’t think the word thanks is just enough to say how much I am thankful for everything I have received. I am so please and happy to have back my hearing in this way. Now I can have fun once more with my young Niece and Nephew, co workers and everybody and everything around me… I must ask you to thank your sister… and the Lions Club.

Thanks again to all of you and the interest you all took from the first email up until I received everything. Thanks a million. Your new friend, I’ll always remember you all. – C. Denver Gorden

Blaine Frisbie: New AUDIENT Hearing Aids

Four-year old Blaine Frisbie of small-town Montana heard himself laugh for the first time when he was fit with his new hearing aids earlier this year. His eyes lit up at the sound, and his mother, Val, and audiologist Tina Berg Fields both found themselves weeping with joy at the sight of a new world opening up for young Blaine.

“It was so incredible!” says Val Frisbie looking back on that day. She remembers Blaine biting into a potato chip after the fitting and looking up to tell her, “These are weally crunchy!” That evening her husband, Tim – who had initially struggled with the idea of putting hearing aids in someone so young – also became a believer. “Once Tim saw the difference he was amazed,” says Val. She remembers how tired Blaine was that night as he went to bed with his head filled with new sounds and new knowledge.

She reports that, with the help of speech therapy, Blaine has been progressing rapidly ever since in his ability to pronounce words clearly. Sister Tailor (14) and brother Brock (9) have enjoyed Blaine’s increased ability to talk with and support his efforts at continued improvement daily. In fact, it is Tailor who helps Blaine put his aids in each morning. For his part, Blaine is quite responsible about wearing them and quick to report when he needs new batteries.

“The Lions who have helped us need to know what a wonderful difference these aids have made for our whole family,” says Val. Blaine was born with substantial hearing loss. An early misdiagnosis gave the Frisbies false hope that the loss could be reversed, but tubes to drain excess fluid and other intervention measures failed to make a difference. When it became apparent that hearing aids were necessary, cost still remained an obstacle.

Both parents work – Val teaches special education at the local school district, and Tim works at a local factory – but the $5,000+ price tag for the high-quality aids that Blaine needed still posed substantial hardship. Fortunately, area audiologist Tina Berg Fields is a partner in the AUDIENT hearing care provider network. This network that makes aids available to income-qualified families at steeply-discounted prices made it possible for Tina to provide Blaine with two high-quality Siemans aids with special kid-gear pack for $1,560. Then the news got even better for the Frisbies. To help this young, local, and deserving family, the Montana Lions Foundation for Sight & Hearing agreed to pay $1,210 of the cost. Our Foundation’s own Patient Care Program kicked in the last $350. Total out-of-pocket cost to the Frisbies? $0.

“We are so very thankful for all that the Lions Foundation did for Blaine,” says Val. “Because of you, he was given the chance to grow and learn.”