Valiant Frankie was told she would never walk, talk or hear

Frankie Wright with mother April Wright.

Frankie Wright with mother April Wright. - Credit: Archant

Parents who were told their deaf daughter would never hear, talk, or walk properly have hailed a screening programme which ensured she can lead a normal life.

Frankie Wright

Frankie Wright - Credit: Archant

Steve and April Wright praised the 'amazing' effect of the Newborn Screening Hearing Service carried out by doctors at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's audiology department (N&N).

Their daughter Frankie, nine of Sharrington, was born with severe deafness in one ear and moderate deafness in the other. She became one of the first babies to undergo the screening programme at the N&N nearly 10 years ago.

She has since defied experts' predictions and learned to hear, walk, and talk thanks to being given a hearing-aid as a newborn child.

Doctors said Frankie would have difficulty maintaining her balance when walking due to the hearing impairment.

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'She has done remarkably well,' said Mrs Wright, 51. 'Soon after she was born we were told she was probably deaf and would struggle to walk and talk. 'They asked if we would consider her to take part in this new programme, and I said I would do anything to help her.'

The programme enabled Frankie to be issued with a hearing aid as a two-month old baby, and meant she picked up sound from an extremely young age. This was key to developing her future hearing.

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'When we switched on her hearing aid she screwed up her face because all of a sudden she could hear things,' Mrs Wright recalls.

'She hated it at first because she wasn't used to it. There was a lot of crying, but we persevered.

'Then she started to talk, make noises, and shuffle along on her bum, and pull herself up.'

The programme celebrates 10 years at the N&N this month and more than 60,000 babies have undergone the programme.

To date 142 newborn babies have been identified through the N&N's programme as having a permanent hearing impairment.

Dr John Fitzgerald, head of audiology at the N&N, said: 'The screening tests use sophisticated technology, can be carried out almost immediately after birth, are entirely safe and comfortable for babies, and are much better at identifying the possibility of hearing impairment than previous methods of testing.'

Frankie, a pupil at Little Snoring Primary School, would not be able to hear human speech without her hearing aid. Mrs Wright said: 'Now she won't stop talking and loves playing sport.'

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