Diego Receives the Gift of Hearing

Diego Neumaier Ortiz. CBS

Diego Neumaier Ortiz.
CBS
On first glance, Diego Neumaier Ortiz appears to be an unlucky 12 year old.  He was born poor in Puebla, Mexico with a rare birth defect, Microtia, which left both of his ears undeveloped inside and out. He had little flaps of skin on the sides of his head where his ears should have been. His world was silent.  He couldn't hear his mother's loving voice.  

CBS Evening News: Born Deaf, Diego Receives the Miracle of Sound

Tonight, on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, we tell the remarkable story of how two California doctors, using a cutting-edge procedure they'd developed, were able to give Diego the gift of hearing. They also gave him a new ear. For the first time in his life he hears his mother's voice and likes the way he  looks. He's planning to come back in December to get a new left ear as well.  
 
Diego calls the operation a miracle. The doctors, John Reinisch, a pioneer in ear reconstruction, and Joseph Roberson, an ear, nose & throat specialist, Diego calls angels. They waived their usual $60,000 fee for performing the life-changing procedure. But the full cost for both ears is almost $130,000, including flights from Mexico, lodging, food and hospital expenses. Diego's family doesn't have medical insurance.  
 
So here is where other angels stepped in. Grateful former patients, who themselves had gotten ears and hearing restored by the doctors, contributed to a fund to pay Diego's expenses. The non-profit Small Wonders Foundation, raised money for the first operation and continue seeking funds for the second. Other patients opened their homes to Diego and his mother so they'd have a place to stay their weeks in the U.S.  
 
Diego is a bit of a miracle himself. Despite his lack of hearing, despite the many people who said he couldn't, Diego was able defy the odds and become the Junior Gymnastics Champion of Mexico. Since he had no money to give doctors Reinisch and Roberson, he gave them his most valuable possession: his championship medals. With two ears and full hearing, he plans to qualify for the Olympics.  
 
  • Bill Whitaker

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