Conor Leigh is a typical young
boy, full of laughter and energy. He and his family live in
County Kildare, Ireland. The only difference between Conor
and any other child is that Conor was born with a rare condition,
called unilateral microtia and aural atresia. Microtia refers
to a deformed outer ear and atresia is the medical term for
a missing ear canal. The combination of the two conditions
caused a 60dB hearing loss on one side.
He recently underwent surgery in
the USA to reconstruct his ear and ear canal.
Fluid in The Ear
When you only have hearing on one side it is important to
ensure that the other side remains healthy and within normal
hearing levels. When Conor was aged 2, he had an ongoing problem
with fluid in his normally formed ear and had to have grommets
fitted by his ENT. This fluid caused a hearing loss in his
'good' ear and so he wore a hearing aid to help him hear on
that ear for a time until the fluid went away and the hearing
on that side returned to normal.
In October 2005, aged 4, Conor went to The California Ear Institute
in Palo Alto, California, USA to have his ear canal reconstructed
by Dr Joseph Roberson. During this surgery, Conor's ear canal
that was filled with bone was drilled out and lined with skin
grafts. An ear drum was created using fascia from the side of
his head and a cholosteatoma, a benign growth that people with
atresia can be prone to, was found and removed.
Implant Stage 1:
In February 2006 Conor returned to the USA to have the first
of two Medpor Implant surgeries with Dr Reinisch in Los Angeles,
to reconstruct his outer ear.
Conor's new ear when the dressing is removed.
Skin was taken from behind Conor's other
ear to cover the front of his new ear
Skin was taken from Conor's abdomen to cover
the back of his ears.
|Prosthetic Middle Ear
Conor returned for more surgery with Dr Roberson at The California
Ear Institute near San Francisco, USA in June 2006. During this
surgery Conor was given titanium middle ear bones to replace
his own malformed middle ear bones.
|Medpor Implant Stage
In the summer of 2006 Conor returned to Los Angeles USA to Dr
Reinisch and had the second stage of the medpor implant to complete
his outer ear reconstruction. This is how Conor's newly
reconstructed ear looks now.
The story of Conor's surgery with Dr Reinisch to reconstruct
his outer ear was documented by The Discovery Health Channel.
The programme makers recorded the show with Conor in February
2006 while in Los Angeles. They filmed Conor before his medpor
implant with Dr Reinisch, they filmed the surgery of his stage
one medpor implant and they came to Ireland to film Conor's
5th birthday party when his new ear was complete.
story is shown on the programme Plastic Surgery, Before &
After in an episode entitled Facing Tomorrow, which was screened
in the USA during January 2007. We participated in this programme
to increase awareness of Microtia & Atresia and in the
hope that it might help someone else.
In the summer of 2006, Conor had an occupational therapy assessment
and was later diagnosed with dyspraxia. This assessment was
carried out at a centre in Los Angeles, USA, because Conor's
parents had a lot of difficulty finding anywhere in Ireland
to carry out an assessment.
all the surgeries that Conor has been through, he is a delightful
happy child. We are very proud of him and his younger brother
Cian who accompanied and minded him during all his surgeries.
A note from Conor - January
friend is Joshua who loves dinosaurs the same as Conor. Emily,
Jamie, Darragh K and Darragh G, that's all my friends. Conor's
teacher is Miss Hegarty and she is a very nice teacher. Conor's
school is great. There is a computer in Conor's school. Conor
was five. Conor loves The Numberjacks on television. Conor
loves Scooby Doo. Conor has lots of art. At Halloween Conor
does Halloween things at school. At Christmas time Conor does
Christmas things in school, like I made a reindeer and a snowman
and I made a Halloween picture at Halloween. Santa brings
lots of presents to Conor. Conor is very good at jumping on
his trampoline that Santa got him. In school Conor is very
happy. Conor is a very happy boy. Conor has a new ear. Conor's
favourite colour is green. "
Having unsuccessfully tried all
other options to regain natural hearing in Conor's reconstructed
ear, in the summer of 2007 Conor returned to the USA again
for some of the first combined surgeries performed by both
Dr Reinisch and Dr Roberson together. During this surgery
Conor had an implant for a BAHA (bone anchored hearing aid)
put into his skull. Unfortunately during this surgery Dr Reinisch
found that Conor's medpor implant had fractured and would
need to be replaced at a later date. This happens in a very
small amount of cases. Later that year in October, Conor received
his Baha processor, which was sent over to Ireland from the
USA and fitted locally by his audiologist. Thankfully the
Baha works fantastically. Conor loves to wear his Baha and
we haven't looked back since now that he can hear on both
sides. Finally in the summer of 2008 Conor returned to Los
Angeles with his family, where Dr Reinisch replaced the fractured
medpor implant. There was an earthquake in Los Angeles on
the day of his surgery when Conor was sitting on his mother's
knee being wheeled out of the surgery centre in a wheelchair.
Thankfully he was too busy getting sick after this surgery
to notice the earthquake! Now in 2009 Conor's ear looks great
and his Baha is fantastic.Success at last!
Due to a lack of occupational therapy services in Ireland,
Conor's parents set up a registered charity, Sensational Kids,
to open an occupational therapy & sensory integration
centre for children with special needs. See www.sensationalkids.ie
for further details.
Occupational Therapy & Sensory Integration Centre