It is amazing to think that this year will be the 10th Microtia and Atresia Conference. My ‘baby’ that first began with 40 attendees at our Gold Coast Centre in 2009, is now a fully-fledged 3-day annual conference at our Brisbane Centre attracting over 100 parents, health and education professionals and university students.
For those who are not aware, my interest in microtia and atresia began with the birth of my now 14-year daughter Chelsea in 2004. Chelsea was born with microtia and atresia, and at the time, there was very little information about this condition, and what there was, was confusing and conflicting.
I needed answers for Chelsea, but as I was to discover, so did many other parents.
The conference has helped hundreds of children receive better management and treatment of microtia and atresia however what I want to share is those who have helped make it possible.
Firstly, to Hear and Say, thank you for trusting me with this conference and supporting me along the way. A special thank you to Emma Rushbrooke who saw value in the crazy ideas of a mum who so passionately wanted to help others and was instrumental in getting the idea off the ground. It has been wonderful watching our shared vision grow together. To Dr Reinisch and Dr Roberson, who have presented and participated in the conference every year, both at their own expense, thank you. Your passion for helping children and your support in the early years helped make the conference happen in the first place, and I am deeply grateful. I can’t believe this will be your 10th visit to the conference. I also want to acknowledge the sponsors who have provided their support over the years, including Cochlear, Oticon Medical, Phonak and MedEl.
Lastly, my thanks to my lovely friend, Lisa, who has also attended every conference, working alongside me. Each year Lisa has travelled from Adelaide with her family, at their own expense. Initially she attended to gather information for her son, Luca, and now as a volunteer. One important aspect of the conference is the individual consultations which I know would be a disaster without her co-ordination on the day. Lisa is simply, my life line, in the lead up to, and over the days of the conference. Microtia brought us together, and you are now one of my dearest friends.
For anyone who plans conferences or events, they will know just how much work goes into the planning, and on the day. It is hard work, but it is also very rewarding, not to mention the amazing people I have met over the years and the many special friendships that have developed. I love our little microtia community!
Simone Cheadle, M&A Conference Coordinator
About Microtia and Atresia
This congenital disorder occurs in one in 6,000 births world-wide. It causes a deformity of one or both ears in which the outer ear is underdeveloped or absent. Microtia is almost always accompanied by atresia because the baby’s outer ear and the ear canal develop together during pregnancy.
Atresia is the absence of an external ear canal and, in many instances the ear drum and ear bones can also be affected. This means that as there is no canal for sound to travel through, these children are born with a conductive hearing loss.