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Dad and granddad tackle City2Surf a week out from baby Ava’s life changing surgery

CBC Group’s Contract Manager at Sydney Airport, Josh Ryan has an extra-special reason for undertaking the 2018 City2Surf on Sunday 12th August.

Josh’s daughter, Ava Ryan was born in February of this year. On her second day of life her routine newborn screening test (SWISH) showed that she may have hearing loss. Ava was then referred to the Sydney Children’s Hospital for more testing. At two weeks of age, Ava was diagnosed with bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss.

Josh says of the diagnosis, “My wife and I were filled with much sadness and confusion. It was an extremely difficult period in our lives as we have no family history of hearing loss and to be honest didn’t know the first thing about it or what it meant for Ava. We weren’t sure if Ava would ever be able to hear or speak or do any of the things that we take for granted like go to school or play sport with friends.”

The Children’s Hospital referred Josh and his wife Michelle, on to The Shepherd Centre’s world-leading Early Intervention Program to help educate them both about hearing loss.

“The Shepherd Centre has been our central point of contact. Through the Centre we are able to process the information we are presented at all of our appointments and discuss these things in more detail to get a clear understanding of the way forward for Ava.

“The Shepherd Centre has also educated us about hearing loss and everything that comes with it. They’ve put us in touch with other families that are in, or have been in, a similar situation; conducted auditory assessments, family counselling and much more,” said Josh.

On the 17th of August, aged only six months, Baby Ava will receive cochlear implants. Through assessment of her hearing it was determined that this treatment would be the best support for her.

“The Shepherd Centre’s First Sounds Program focuses on assessing Ava to see if she is a suitable candidate for cochlear implants. This program helped look at a number of tests (including Ava’s ABR, MRI, cortical tests and visual auditory assessments) to get a thorough understanding of Ava’s hearing loss so a decision could be made as to whether cochlear implants would benefit her or not.

“This was such a valuable program for us the decision we are making for Ava is life changing and it was reassuring to be able to have The Shepherd Centre lay all of the information out for us to know that the decision to have cochlear implants is the right one for Ava. The Shepherd Centre really took the time to answer all of our questions (and are still answering them every time we meet with them) to ensure going into the cochlear implant surgery we are as educated and comfortable with the process as possible. It is a major decision to operate on a six month old and, thanks to the support of The Shepherd Centre, we are going into it knowing it is the right one.

“My wife, Michelle, has also taken Ava and my son (who does not have a hearing loss) to the weekly playgroup to see past parents and Shepherd Centre students speak. This initiative by The Centre enabled us to hear from past students what it was like for them and also gives our son the opportunity to see other children using hearing aids and cochlear implants just like Ava. When Ava is old enough it will also be a great opportunity for her to play with children that understand her and her hearing loss.”

August is a big month for the Ryan household, just a week out from Ava’s surgery Josh is tasked with a challenge of his own, the self-professed ‘average Joe’ is undertaking the City2Surf, to raise money and awareness for The Shepherd Centre’s programs. Ava’s Granddad Mike, aged 54, is running too.

Having professed to not being a runner and therefore not tackling this distance before, Josh has taken up training for the 14km event in between working and time with his wife and children. During training his family is what he focuses on to forge ahead.

“Our experience with The Shepherd Centre has been irreplaceable. We feel so lucky to have been able to deal with such a caring and knowledgeable team of individuals who understand that we have little to no experience with hearing loss and have taken the time to ensure we start to understand it and what it means for Ava and our family.

“We know that one of the biggest factors in the success of Ava learning to hear and speak is giving her access to sound as soon as possible – we look forward to giving her full access in August and continuing on Ava’s journey with The Shepherd Centre.”

If you would like to make a donation to Josh click here:


You can find a link to Mike’s donation page here:



About The Shepherd Centre:

The Shepherd Centre is a NSW-based not-for-profit organisation specialising in early intervention to help children who are deaf and hearing-impaired develop spoken language skills. Since its foundation, The Shepherd Centre has opened up a world of sound for more than 2,000 children who are deaf or hearing impaired. The organisation is recognised as a world leader in the field of Listening and Spoken Language early intervention, providing families with assistance to develop their child’s speech, so they can reach their full potential. The Shepherd Centre relies heavily upon fundraising and donations to support the more than 500 Australian families who turn to them for help each year. The services cost nearly $20,000 per year per child and the funds donated help give deaf and hearing impaired children access to critical services.

More information: www.shepherdcentre.org.au.

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