BCE student has first bilateral paediatric 3D ear reconstruction in Australia


Harriet Sanders with St Elizabeth’s School Principal Jenna Webb.

Getting your ears pierced may not be a big deal to some, but for Harriet Sanders, a Year 2 student at St Elizabeth’s School Tarragindi, it means the world. 
This National Week of Deaf People 2023, Harriet shares her story of being born with bilateral microtia and atresia, a rare congenital condition which means she was born without ears and an ear canal 
In 2022 supported by her family, friends, and the St Elizabeth’s School community, Harriet underwent the first ever bilateral paediatric 3D ear reconstruction in Australia.  
Harriet’s mother Anna Sanders says she credits the advancements in 3D medical printing and Sydney surgeon Joe Dusseldorp for building her daughter’s ears across two revolutionary surgeries. 
They also implanted Cochlear Osia Systems, which not only improves her quality of hearing, but also means she has more autonomy, independence, and control over her hearing,” she says. 
It was quite an upgrade for Harriet, who was previously using BAHA 5 bone conduction hearing aids which are headband-mounted hearing aids that conduct sound through the bone in her forehead. 
Harriet loves having ears like her friends and everyone else, and she is glad she can retire her headband, which she sometimes found to be uncomfortable. 
With her ears now healed, we decided to let Harriet get her ears pierced, and she has been showing off her new earrings to her classmates. 
We are so grateful that Harriet can use the latest technology to help her hear, and that St Elizabeth’s is so open to supporting the technology needed for this to happen.” 
St Elizabeth’s School Principal Jenna Webb says Harriet is doing exceptionally well with her new ears. 
“Seeing Harriet turn into a confident Year 2 student who answers questions and is an active participant in the classroom is truly rewarding,” she says. 
“With so many surgeries and changes throughout Year 1 and Year 2, we are incredibly proud to see her thriving alongside our other learners. 
The Principal called Harriet is such a joyful and resilient student with a love for learning.” 
“We are blessed to have her at our school,” she says. 
“Hearing is something that the vast majority take for granted, but it is vital for learning, confidence, development, and social relationships at school.”  
To help support Harriet, the school uses a sound field amplification system in all classrooms, monitors classroom noise levels, uses a variety of visuals to supplement auditory input, and encourages other students to use microphones where appropriate. 
Our teachers and school staff are also continually provided with professional development opportunities which benefit students like Harriet.” 
When it comes to hearing health, Harriet’s tips include not listening to loud music for long periods of time, and to see a doctor if you are worried about your hearing. 


For more information about St Elizabeth’s School Tarragindi and to enrol click here. ​

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