By Janet Tappin Coelho in Brazil
This is the heartwarming moment a deaf boy spins around in shock and bursts into tears as he hears his dad’s voice for the first time in weeks after getting a replacement hearing aid.
When nine-year-old Luiz Gustavo da Silva’s surgical hearing implant stopped working in March this year, he was left facing weeks of uncertainty
because his family couldn’t afford the repair bill of £1,630 / $2,260 (7,600 reais).
The youngster was devastated by the sudden silence and cried repeatedly as he sorely missed his love of conversation, music and interacting at school.
The child’s plight touched the hearts of scores of residents in his home town, Bueno Brandão in south east Brazil, which has a population of around 11,000.
Hundreds rallied to the youngster’s cause when a teacher, Caleny Augusta de Rosa, suggested holding a raffle with an ox, worth around £220 / $300 (1,000 reais), donated by the family as the top prize.
Ms de Rosa said: “Once people heard about Luiz Gustavo’s difficulties, many residents who had never met him, got behind the campaign. We printed 1,000 tickets and sold each one for 10 reais (£2.20 / $3.00).
“Within 15 days we had raised more than enough to fix the device.”
Athais, 29, Luiz Gustavo’s mum said: “The response was amazing. We were shocked by how many people supported our son and gave so generously.”
To show their appreciation, the youngster’s dad, Juliano, 32, recorded the moment on 19 March when he refitted the implement to his anxious son’s left ear and switched it on. At first the device didn’t work.
“I adjusted it and the instant Luiz Gustavo heard my voice was priceless,” recalled Mr da Silva, an office administrator who recently released the footage.
“It still brings tears to my eyes when I look back on how he jumped with surprised joy and gave the thumbs up. That moment reminds me just how isolated he is when he cannot hear.”
Mr da Silva explained his son was born deaf, but doctors failed for over a year and a half to correctly diagnose the problem.
At the age of three, the toddler was fitted with a life-transforming cochlear implant with a removable external processor that attaches via a magnet to an internal implant, surgically placed under the skin.
When connected, coded signals from the processor are received and then translated to the electrode simulators. A tiny electrical charge is sent to the fibres of the auditory nerve to give sound sensations which are recognised by the brain.
“For the past six years Luiz Gustavo has been living a normal life and has been working with speech therapists to improve his communication,” Mr da Silva revealed.
“Then around March 4 the hearing aid suddenly stopped working. We sent it to the manufacturer’s technical department, but the Unified Health
System (SUS – Brazil’s public health service) doesn’t pay for maintenance and the warranty expired three years ago. So, we were presented with a repair bill we couldn’t afford.
“Luiz Gustavo was without the equipment for over two weeks. But for him it felt like an eternity,” Mr da Silva recalled.
The distressed boy refused to go to school and spent nearly every day ‘sobbing his heart out’ and getting increasingly frustrated over his predicament.
“On the day we went to collect the repair, I decided to record a video to show everyone, who had bought a raffle ticket, the result of their extraordinary kindness,” said the grateful dad.
Footage shows the adorable moment a shocked Luiz Gustavo spins on his heels and bursts into tears as his father says: “There is no need to cry’ but starts to cry himself while repeatedly affirming: “You can hear, you can hear!”
After hugging the family friend, who volunteered to collect the device from the manufacturers in Sao Paulo, the delighted boy waves to the camera and between sobs says: “Thank you everyone.”
“We were stunned by the commotion the video created,” admitted Mr da Silva.
“Within a day of it being posted, we received a staggering eight million views, hundreds of thousands of shares and calls from TV and radio to tell our story.
“People were touched by Luiz Gustavo’s response which was heartfelt. He couldn’t stop crying with happiness and his reaction reduced me to tears. We’re eternally indebted to everyone who helped make this difference to his life,” he added.
Now the family is battling to raise funds to pay for bilateral surgery to deliver hearing to the child’s right ear.
“The SUS only pays for one ear to be fitted with the implant but with hearing aids on both sides of his head, his speech and personal interactions will develop enormously,” the resolute dad said.
The cost for the second device is over £15,000 / $20,800 (70,000 reais). The family has launched a fund-raising page and is hoping for help once again, from relatives and friends.
Anyone wishing to contribute to Luiz Gustavo’s new hearing aid should go to https://www.vakinha.com.br/vaquinha/luiz-gustavo-cirurgia-e-aparelho-auditivo