AN OVERJOYED mum has praised medics for giving her disabled son the chance to have a life-changing operation.
Kimberley Clark’s six-year-old son Zac has Riboflavin Transporter Deficiency (RTD) – a genetic condition which affects around 100 people in the world.
The Castlemilk youngster , who is the only person in Scotland with RTD, has difficulty with his hearing, speech, mobility and sight.
Until he was three, Zac acted just like any other child – walking, talking, playing with his friends and enjoying family time at home.
However his dad Pat, 31, and mum Kimberley started noticing he walked with a wider gait than other children, and his eyes started flickering.
He was unable to stay focused on anything for more than a few seconds at a time, and was eventually diagnosed with RTD in January 2016.
Last year the Evening Times highlighted mum-of-two Kimberley’s plea to the NHS to help her son hear again by giving him cochlear implants.
She hoped this also would help to improve his speech and understanding of his environment, giving him a better quality of life.
However medics at Crosshouse Hospital disagreed and refused to implant the youngster, saying he would not be able to make use of any extra sound he could hear.
Cochlear implants don’t act like hearing aids, which amplify sound; instead the electronic device replaces the damaged part of the inner ear, giving sound signals to the brain.
Kimberly said: “With Zac, he can hear noise but he can’t process it. When it reaches him it only sounds muffled, like white noise almost.”
After battling for treatment, 28-year-old council worker Kimberley and husband Pat didn’t give up their fight and demanded a second opinion from specialists in Manchester, who had already implanted two other children with Zac’s condition.
After months of appointments and meetings with Manchester doctors, the family were given the news they had been waiting for.
Kimberley said: “We got the phone call to say they think Zac would be a suitable candidate and they wanted to try and see if the implant would help him.
“It was so hard not not cry. When I phoned Pat and told him we had got it, the two of us were on the phone crying to each other.
“We just couldn’t believe it.
” Because we have been on this journey, about his hearing and the implant for more than a year it was so nice to hear that it was finally over, and we were getting the outcome we could hope for.
“I didn’t know what to say to the doctor. I’m just so grateful and thankful that they are giving him this opportunity to be able to hear again.”
Zac will travel to Greater Manchester Children’s Hospital in June, where he will be in surgery for three hours while doctors carefully fit the tiny miracle device.
The family will then have to wait anxiously to find out if it has healed, before he returns in July to have it switched on.
Kimberley said: “That will be an emotional time I think, to see what happens when the implant is activated and see what difference it makes.
“We have had conversations with the doctors about it and their expectation is that Zac may not be able to regain speech but it should be able to help him hear again which means we can communicate with him.
“It’ll help him to understand the world around him better. At the moment Zac doesn’t have much hearing therefore he is limited on what he can do.
” I think it’s going to open up a whole new set of opportunities for him.”
Kimberley has also urged families who have been turned down for implants to ask for second opinions, like she has done.
She said: “I think it helps that Manchester has fitted two already in children with Zac’s condition.
“They see the benefits of this and that it could potentially bring. I can’t say anything bad about Crosshouse, they just didn’t see the potential that Manchester doctors see in Zac.
Anyone else in our situation, if they think these implants are going to help their children then I would say fight for it.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of what I call our extended family, the RTD warriors around the world.