A deaf seven-year-old girl who had never spoken a single sentence has finally been able to tell her parents she loves them after undergoing groundbreaking surgery.
Leia Armitage from Dagenham, Essex, was born with a rare form of the disability which even the most powerful hearing aids could not fix.
But, in a remarkable turn which even left the Health Secretary in ‘awe’, she has now found her voice years after a cutting-edge chip was implanted in her brain.
Leia’s dad Bob said: ‘We thought we had no hope as her deafness was so rare, but thanks to the [implant] we’ve come so far.
‘It’s taken five years and a lot of rehab but Leia has defied the odds and is now putting full sentences together.
‘There’s nothing better than hearing her say “I love you daddy”.’
Leia was born without her cochlea and auditory nerve in both ears meaning she was profoundly deaf.
Speaking in 2015, Bob said: ‘When we first found out she was deaf it was devastating.
‘We thought she was going to be deaf for the rest of her life and thought she had no hope of hearing because her situation it was so rare.’
In 2013, approaching her second birthday, Leia became the first child in London to have an auditory brainstem implant to try to cure her deafness.