10/04/2018 11:01 BST | Updated 10/04/2018 11:01 BST

Strangers Raise £80,000 To Get Three-Year-Old Cochlear Implants After He Was Denied NHS Funding

'We will never forget how you all helped to change Benji’s life.'

The parents of a toddler who were unable to get funding for cochlear implants on the NHS are over the moon after strangers have collectively donated £80,000 for their son to get them. 

Joanna Wayne, from south London, set up a JustGiving page to raise the funds for her three-year-old son Benjamin who was born with hearing loss as a result of a genetic condition called Connexin 26.

She said he needed implants as he was at a critical age in his development of needing to access sounds for his speech to develop.

She told HuffPost UK that the criteria for implants under NHS are currently under review, “They are outdated and need changing to include current ‘borderline’ candidates like Benji as they are life-changing.” 

The family started fundraising in March this year and have managed to raise enough to pay for the implants - £76,699.Benjamin will be having surgery this week. 

Benji will be getting cochlear implants this week. 

Benjamin was fitted with hearing aids at just four weeks old. A year ago he was referred for assessment to St Thomas’ hearing implant centre and was told he needed cochlear implants as his limited hearing was continuing to deteriorate. He was denied funding on the NHS for these. 

“We tried numerous other pieces of technology and this is the only option that will allow Benji access to sufficient sounds for his speech to develop during this critical age in his development,” Joanna wrote on the JustGiving page when setting it up. “Time is against us as Benji is at the crucial age for development and we now have no choice but to raise the £80,000 that is essential for him to learn to hear, speak and communicate.”

Regarding the lack of NHS funding for Benjamin’s implants, an NHS spokeswoman said, according to the Mail: “The NHS funds cochlear implants for patients that NICE have said will benefit the most. Doctors can apply for funding for individuals not covered by the guidance, but to ensure we are treating all patients fairly, they have to provide very strong clinical evidence to show why their patient should have access to a treatment that others do not.”

Wayne and her son had a boost in fundraising thanks to an appearance on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ in March. Comedian Jason Manford saw them and shared it to his 1.3 million followers. The fund hit its target when an American businessman reportedly donated the rest of the money needed after watching the pair on the BBC.

The family have been sharing updates on a Facebook page called Benji’s Magic Ears and were thrilled to share the news with their followers on 9 April: “Today we saw Benji’s team and signed the forms for surgery, they were absolutely delighted for us and we are on for this Saturday [14 April]! The support has been astounding. The efforts put in from so many people has just been so humbling.

“We will never forget how you all helped to change Benji’s life. Yesterday a few of Benji’s family members ran a half marathon for him and it was very emotional, the cheers of ‘do it for Benji!’ made us well up. So, far and wide, Benji’s supporters, we will always remember much you have all made a difference.”

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