THE Andover mother of a deaf toddler has appealed for help to find his lost hearing implant.

Three-year-old Jacob Dodd, of Tintagel Close, was playing football with his nursery friends on 15 July when he lost one of his pair of cochlear implants, a surgically implanted device which allows deaf children to hear.

And despite mum Adele Dodd, aged 30, putting up posters around Vigo Park, where the implant went missing, the youngster – who was born with genetic condition connexion 26 – has had to live without the full benefit of his hearing lifeline.

The concerned mum now fears that without the device – which cost the NHS, along with the operation, a total of £70,000 – her son’s speech will not progress and he will have to go to a specialist deaf school in a year-and-a-half.

Adele, who has gone back to Vigo Park every day to look since it went missing, said: “The implants are a miracle really. Deaf children who get implants often catch up with their peers, whereas before they would have to go to a special school.”

Because of Jacob’s deafness, he currently has the speech ability of an 18-month-old, but since the implants were fitted almost two years ago it was hoped that he would be able to communicate well enough for a mainstream school.

Adele said: “The longer he doesn’t have it in the more likely the auditory nerves will die, as he isn’t using them.

“He is more frustrated – he keeps asking where it is. It is worrying him that he doesn’t have the two and they have said that his progress has slowed, which is worrying.”

Adele told the Advertiser that the NHS will look into replacing the lost implant, but this could take several months. It will also be a whole day to fit the new device, which is an uncomfortable process for Jacob.

The mum believes that someone may have picked up the device, but is unsure what it is. She has asked anyone with any information to contact Andover police on 101 or call the Andover Advertiser on 01264 321210 or email jennifer.rivett@andoveradvertiser.