Evie was born profoundly deaf but it was not until she was 16 months old that tests revealed she had no hearing nerves, meaning an auditory brainstem implant – or bionic ear – was her only chance of ever hearing.
The 23-month-old has Oculo-Auriculo-Vertebral Syndrome (OAV), a very rare condition with no known cause, which affects the eyes, ears and spine.
Her parents Emily and David Small, of Horndean, Hampshire, only had weeks to raise funds for Evie, then aged 19 months, to undergo the implant, or face the prospect of a life of silence.
The procedure has to be carried out before children reach their second birthday because pathways in the brain start to close up at this age.
Mr and Mrs Small were initially advised their daughter should undergo a cochlear implant on the NHS in Southampton but after asking for a second opinion they were told Evie had no hearing nerves.