Kieran gets the 'big ears' he's dreamed about
Nine-year-old Bushey boy Kieran Sorkin was born deaf with just small lobes where his ears should have been. But he now has the "big ears" he has always wanted, created from the cartilage of his own ribs, and grafted on to his head in a seven-hour operation performed by surgeons at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital.
And Kieran - who suffers from a rare congenital condition, microtia - will be honoured for his fortitude when he is called up at the Shabbat morning service at Bushey Synagogue, where he attends cheder and JLGB.
The surgery was for cosmetic purposes, Kieran having already undergone three operations to improve his hearing. His parents, Louise and David, had been keen to keep him in mainstream schooling and he initially attended Sinai Jewish Primary in Kenton. But unable to continue receiving the extra help he needed, he is now at a St Albans school with a special deaf unit and at least one deaf child in every year.
"While Kieran himself didn't necessarily accept that he was different from any other child, he was fed up with being constantly teased or asked questions about his appearance," said his father, an IT manager. "So, once he learned at the age of six that such an operation might be possible, it was absolutely his decision to go ahead.Now he looks near enough like any other nine-year-old kid, which is what he always wanted."
To shape Kieran's new ears, doctors first looked at his father's but felt they were too large. The small and pretty ears of his mother, a teacher at Edgware Synagogue's Gan Kinneret nursery, were deemed more suitable. So doctors used hers as a template, leaving Kieran delighted to have "inherited" her features.
Now he looks like any nine-year-old, which is what he wanted
The Sorkins have praised the Jewish Deaf Association for its long-term assistance. "We were totally unprepared when Kieran was born, but the JDA was there for us right from the beginning, with counselling and advice and, later on, providing access to specialised teachers and the like. Last year, [our daughter] Mia raised £1,100 for the association by cutting off her long hair."
JDA executive director Sue Cipin recalled that, when Mrs Sorkin found out her newborn son was deaf, she felt like it was the end of the world.
"But, since that first scary diagnosis, JDA have formed a close relationship with the Sorkin family, dedicating ourselves to supporting them both practically and emotionally. We introduced them to other families with deaf children and ensured that Kieran had access to specially tailored hearing aids, education, therapies and treatments.
"Kieran's journey has been long and hard and, for such a young boy, he's already endured more consultations and operations than most people do in their entire lives. We've all been waiting for this wonderful day and now he has his new ears, we know that his confidence will soar."