Change the future for a deaf child | thespectrum.com | The Spectrum Today, I want to talk about Hannah, a bright, sociable 7 year old who is the beloved youngest of my friends LeAnn and Rob Wankier's seven children. My reasons for dedicating my "platform" to Hannah are similar to reasons why Ed Yeates wrote "Insurance Company Won't Cover Girl's Bilateral Cochlear Implant" which was broadcast on Dec. 10 at 10:10 p.m. by KSL-TV. Hannah, adopted from China as an infant and profoundly deaf, received a cochlear implant in July 2006. Her implant coincided with her starting school and allowed her to learn to read and begin vital socialization. However, her progress is limited because her right-sided implant only goes to her left brain where reasoning takes place. She can't receive information through her left ear which would feed the right hemisphere of her brain where creative, social events are processed. She desperately needs another implant to become a fully functional adult. With bilateral implants, Hannah's hearing will become much more normal, because she will receive input from two ears, rather than one. Her young brain will process information, switching between hemispheres according to whether she's listening to her teacher explain fractions or giggling with a friend about an upcoming play date. Unfortunately Hannah lives in Utah where bilateral implants aren't covered by insurance, and her parents are small business owners who have paid tens of thousands in premiums which they - rightly, in my opinion - think should pay the approximately $45,000 tab. If Hannah lived in any other state, she'd, most likely, have already had both implants and be able to hear through both ears. SelectHealth, the insurance carrier for the Wankiers, is the largest health insurance company in the state, and has arbitrarily proclaimed that bilateral cochlear implants are "experimental" and, thus, have denied Hannah - and every other deaf child in Utah - this life-enhancing surgery. Rob and LeAnn have been trying to get the second implant for Hannah since they realized how effective the first implant was. They want Hannah to have skills their older six children share, and they want her to have the same chance for successful adulthood. However, Hannah's brain is growing and changing; its ability to adapt and utilize the cochlear technology is quickly diminishing as she ages. The window of opportunity is starting to close. When the insurance company denied coverage, they said, "We do intend in the coming months to do a thorough re-assessment of the exclusion of bilateral cochlear implants, and will utilize the extensive information that you provided as part of that review." Sure, this ponderous, huge company will "review" and "re-assess" for months and years, while Hannah grows up. Those decision makers have ignored the preponderance of research that proves bilateral cochlear implants are as medically necessary as hip replacements, artificial heart valves, and pace makers. Implants allow deaf people to hear and function a world of sound. That denial hurts vulnerable children, their families, friends and society in general. You can help by using your voice. Together, we can right this wrong. If you edit a company newsletter, work for a publication, have a blog or Web site, teach a class, or have any sort of audience, add your voice to mine. Additionally, you can flood SelectHealth with letters: SelectHealth 4646 W. Lake Park Boulevard P. O. Box 30192 Salt Lake City, UT 84130 You can also send e-mails to their public relations department: Jason Burgess at Jason.firstname.lastname@example.org and Greg Reid at email@example.com. You can urge the Utah State Insurance Commission to mandate bilateral cochlear implants, and you can lobby the state legislature as the 2009 session gets under way. Recruit your friends and acquaintances to join this simple, important crusade, a crusade that will make a huge difference to Hannah and to every other child who cannot hear through both ears.