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Baby Blake’s Story

Updated: 23rd February 2016 Story of the Month November Baby Blake’s Story

Blake Reilly arrived into the world one month early in June 2015. He spent a little time in the Intensive Care Unit and the Special Care Baby Unit in the Coombe Hospital, but at just eight days old, three weeks before he was due to be born, he was on his way home with his mam Elisha.

Just minutes before he left the hospital to go home for the first time Blake had a hearing screening test in the hospital. In fact Elisha had to wait for the screener to come to the ward before going home – they were not allowed to leave until the hearing screen was completed! Since newborn hearing screening was introduced by the HSE in 2013, all babies receive a hearing screen shortly after birth, and this is usually done before the baby leaves the maternity hospital.

The screener completed the hearing screen with Blake, but could not get a clear response. Elisha said the screener reassured her that it was probably just fluid in the ear, but as there was no clear response, she would get an appointment for baby Blake to attend for a further test in a few weeks time. This is not unusual, as up to 4% of babies may not get a clear response to the hearing screen test, but only 2–3 children per thousand actually have a hearing loss at birth. Elisha says she was reassured by what the screener had said, and was so unconcerned that she forgot about the appointment! However, she quickly got another one. Elisha Reilly

Elisha Reilly


Hearing assessment and diagnosis

On Friday 29th of August Elisha brought Blake for his hearing assessment. She was not concerned, and expected Blake to be given a clean bill of health. However, the audiologist tested one ear, and said there seemed to be a problem. He asked Elisha if she wanted to proceed with testing the second ear or wait until a later date. Elisha asked him to complete the test on the second ear. The news was not good: Blake was profoundly deaf in both ears. This was a tough day for Elisha, and she says that in hindsight it would have been much better if she had had a member of her family with her when being told about Blake’s diagnosis.

Within ten days of the diagnosis, Blake had been fitted with hearing aids. It was a difficult time for Elisha telling her family and friends about Blakes deafness. They hoped that it was a mistake, and even banged saucepans and doors to see if Blake would react to the sounds. Sadly he didn’t. But Blake was a happy baby, eating well and responding well to sounds when he got his hearing aids. Elisha quickly realised and accepted that Blake was deaf, and set about getting more information about hearing loss and the supports that were available.

Portlaois Weekend

The audiologist asked DeafHear to contact Elisha, and soon afterwards she met with Anne Marie, one of DeafHear’s social workers. Elisha got some information about deafness, and also about an upcoming weekend for parents with newly diagnosed children to be held in Portalois. Elisha made plans to attend this weekend which was held in October.

Blake was just 4 months old when he and Elisha went to Portlaois for the parents’ weekend. Elisha says this was a fantastic experience and that the weekend was a real eye–opener for her. She says she learned so much during the two days. The highlights were meeting other families with deaf children, the in depth information on hearing loss, and meeting the Deaf adults and their families who spoke about their experiences growing up. Elisha found the weekend weekend uplifting, and says she was filled with hope for Blake’s future and felt reassured then that they were not alone.

Since the weekend Elisha has attended the mother and toddler group with Blake in DeafHear’s Tallaght Resource Centre. She says that Anne Marie has been a great source of support to her. Blake is now a healthy and happy seven month old baby who is meeting his develomental milestones. However, not everything has been plain sailing, and recently there have been problems getting Blake’s earmoulds replaced in a timely fashion. At present Elisha says she is also waiting to be assigned an audiologist for Blake.

Elisha says that she has great support from her family and that this is vital in helping her to bring Blake to all of his appointments and provide him with the extra attention that he needs. She hopes that Blake will be considered for a cochlear implant in the future and also plans to learn Irish Sign Language. She believes strongly that Blake must have access to communication at all times, and that he should have choices in how he wants to communicate as he grows up.

Fight to Hear Baby Blake & the Carruth Brothers

Baby Blake & the
Carruth Brothers


Elisha is very grateful to DeafHear for the family weekend they had in Portlaois, and she says she knows that the event must have been heavily subsidised by DeafHear. She wanted to raise awareness about deafness and DeafHear’s work, and so she decided to organise a fundraising event for DeafHear. And so the ‘Fight to Hear’ event was conceived! Fight to Hear is a white and pink collar boxing event… and much more! And it is all happening in the Transport Club in Crumlin on February 19th.

The Carruth brothers, Martin, William, and Michael, the olympic gold winning medalist, are involved in training and preparing the participants for the ‘fight night’. A White and Pink Collar event essentially involves inexperienced boxers (volunteers!) getting into the ring! Not something you want to do without the right preparation!

Apart from the boxing, there will be a variety of other entertainment on the night, including music, comedy and a grand auction! The star auction lot on the night has to be a unique set of boxing gloves signed by two of Ireland’s olympic gold winning medalists, Michael Carruth (Barcelona, 1992) and Katie Taylor (London, 2012). Line Break Image


On Friday February 19th a crowd of over 300 people crowded into the Transport Club in Crumlin to support Elisha’s fundraiser for DeafHear ‘Fight to Hear’. There was a fantastic atmosphere for the bouts, and the commitment, fitness and bravery of the fighters shone through. Clearly their mentors, the Carruth brothers had done a great job in preparing them over recent months. Baby Blake & the Carruth Brothers

The fighters get ready to enter the ring. Baby Blake & the Carruth Brothers

Niamh Keane and Elisha wait on the verdict!

There was also music and a monster raffle… and considerable funds were raised to support DeafHear’s family services. The night was a great success, and a testament to Elisha’s organisational skills. Many thanks to Elisha, her family and friends, all who attended, and of course the famous trainers and the volunteer fighters. Well done!




more...Hearing loss costs an estimated €2.2bn every year in Ireland.


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