Aussie parents stunned as daughter born without ears: 'Worst moment of our lives'

Ava Hatcher was born was a 'rare' condition that affects the growth of facial bones and tissues.

Ava Hatcher as a newborn wrapped in a multicoloured stripe towel (left) and her dad Jonathan holding her to his chest (right).
Selin and Jonathan Hatcher's daughter Ava was born without ears. Source: Instagram

What is usually described as the best day of a parent's life was instead one of the worst for Selin Hatcher. Seconds after her daughter Ava was born, the Sydney woman could tell "something was different" but the haze of childbirth had left her confused.

"I very naively thought, 'Oh, is that what ears look like when they first come out?' I was very much in shock," she told Yahoo News. The mum was quickly informed her daughter had actually been born "without ears".

As Hatcher and her partner Jonathan tried to comprehend the "worst moment" of their lives, uncertainty loomed over the family.

"Not only is there the shock and the fear and the grief and all the unknowns, your head ends up going to all the worst possible scenarios... we were in a very dark place," she said.

Tests later revealed Ava had Treacher Collins Syndrome — a "rare" genetic disorder which affects the growth of facial bones and tissues.

The condition impacts one in every 50,000 children in the country and can cause a plethora of issues, from problems with feeding and breathing to speech and hearing. To combat these as quickly as possible, Ava was fitted with "bone conductive hearing aids" at only three-weeks old.

"She had this tiny little face and tiny little head, the device looked huge. We called her our little robot baby because she was wearing these big devices on her head that would stick out and would always get in the way," Hatcher said.

Ava smiles with gesturing L with both of her hands (left) and Selin and Ava embrace lovingly while laughing (right).
Four-year-old Ava has worn bone conductive hearing aids since she was three weeks old. Source: Instagram

Despite being born without ears, Ava did develop cochleas in the womb. The hearing aids vibrate against her skull to activate her cochleas and generate sound.

Thanks to the help of doctors and therapy provided by The Shepherd Centre, an organisation that offers services to children living with hearing loss and impairment, Ava can now hear "extremely well" as a four-year-old.

"It's pretty incredible to think that someone who doesn't have fully developed ears is still able to have access to sound, especially from such a young age," Selin said.

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