A mother has spoken out on the devastating circumstances that led to her baby being made totally mute.
At only a few days old Leya Raper was rushed to hospital when her mum Casey and dad Dan noticed she was having trouble breathing. The little girl was diagnosed with bilateral vocal cord paralysis after examining her throat with a tiny camera. Doctors had no choice but to give Leya a tracheotomy – which involves making an opening in the neck to provide an airway.
While the operation was a success, it means that no air enters Leya’s vocal chords, so she can’t make a sound.
Casey and Dan have to keep a close eye on Leya’s facial expressions to know if she’s upset or crying as babies can’t make tears until they’re a few months old.
Her mum explains: “There are a few tears now but we’ve mainly only been able to tell if she was crying by looking at her facial expressions - it’s heart wrenching.
“We can also tell if she’s giggling but she makes no noise. She moves her mouth as if she’s going to make a sound - that’s really hard for us both to deal with.”
It’s not known how long Leya will need the tracheotomy: “We need to wait until her voice cords become stronger and start moving. It make take one year, five year or 15 years - we just don’t know.
“Hopefully she will grow out of it and will eventually able to speak, but there’s no guarantee. Her voice box might not recover from it.
“She will eventually learn that if she puts her finger over the hole she will make some noise, but that won’t be for some time.”
Casey and Dan are currently learning sign language so they can communicate with their daughter in the future.