Charlotte and BJ Copp were thrilled to become new parents, but for a time, excitement turned to fear.
Their son Ethan was born with a viral infection that was passed on from his mother, known as CMV. It is a very common virus that effects between 50 to 85 percent of Americans with no problems. Charlotte never knew she had it until she gave birth.
After Ethan was born he was in immediate trouble. His first weeks were spent in the hospital in Sioux City. He received many blood transplants and medications.
When they could finally bring Ethan home, Charlotte admits that she was nervous. "At first everyone had to wash their hands and use hand gel but then I realize that he is a little baby. You can hold him and it will be just fine." She laughs now, as Ethan seems to be a typical 22 month old boy who loves to play outside and play with his blocks.
He has never been behind on development. The only lasting damage his virus really did was affect his hearing. He has been diagnosed as severe to profoundly deaf. Charlotte and BJ knew from standard hearing tests that had been done when he was born that he had hearing trouble. There were more tests done when he was three and six months that confirmed that he was deaf.
Charlotte and BJ knew they wanted to have their son hear more than the sounds of jet planes and trains - about all that can penetrate his level of hearing. At 16 months old Ethan went through the surgery to have a cochlear implant. The implant would bypass the damaged part of his ear and goes directly to the auditory nerve that sends the sound messages to his brain. At 17 months, after Ethan was able to recover from the surgery, he had his implant turned on.
Charlotte has taught her son a little bit of sign language that helps them communicate with each other. The family continues to hold out hope that he will have enough hearing to function normally throughout his life.
Today Ethan Copp hears well. He is starting to talk and walks just fine. Charlotte said, "Sometimes it's harder for him to get his balance because of his ears, but he walks just fine. He doesn't have much trouble."
There are a few restrictions that Ethan's new hearing has given him. He can't play on a plastic playground with his microphone that sits behind his ear turned on. He also must take the microphone off for baths and sleeping. These restrictions are few but just something they keep in mind. They also will work with a speech pathologist but have not yet begun. This can be normal even for children without an implant.
A benefit breakfast is being held at St. Mark's Lutheran Church on April 8 from 7:30 a.m. - 9 a.m. A free will donation is asked for. The benefit is to offset some the the unexpected costs that they have incurred.