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Journey toward hearing: Community donates for daughter of MCSO agent

Special to the Enquirer

Annaleigh Jenkins brings joy to those around her.

The daughter of Jerald and Brandie Jenkins, Annaleigh was recently diagnosed with severe and profound sensorineural hearing loss. Her condition is irreversible, and she will need hearing aids and cochlear implants to hear.

Commercial insurance will not cover these devices, which cost $30,000-50,000 each. So, friends of the Jenkins family are stepping up to meet the need.

Colleagues at the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, where Jerald is a narcotics agent, have come together to raise funds to benefit Annaleigh as she begins her journey toward the gift of hearing.

Jerald and Brandie shared more of Annaleigh’s journey from early diagnosis to the present on Facebook:

“We wanted to share Annaleigh’s journey with everyone so that it can be understood where we are and what we will have to endure.

“When Annaleigh was born, she failed her hearing test in the hospital twice. After being home around a week we had to go back for Annaleigh to take another newborn hearing test, which she passed. This would be the only hearing test that Annaleigh has passed,” Brandie shared.

“She used to coo and make noises all the time. She had recurring ear infections, even with treatment. This is when we noticed her not being able to make any more sounds.

“We took her to the doctor, and after her fifth visit in two months for ear infections, her pediatrician recommended getting tubes.

“Before she was able to get tubes, they did another hearing test and she failed again. The doctors said it was nothing to worry about and the tubes should help.

“Annaleigh had tubes put in in March 2021. And even after her tubes she continued to fail six more hearing tests. The doctors kept telling us not to worry because her eardrums looked fine. However, Annaleigh has still not said her first word and her balance was unsteady.

“She is wobbly while she is sitting up and falls frequently even while walking on flat surfaces. On July 4, when the first firework went off, it never phased her. She never acknowledged the fireworks until I pointed at them. I finally told her pediatrician that I demanded further testing and I will not be referred to Decatur ENT after them not providing adequate patient care to Annaleigh.

“After demanding further testing, we were able to get a sedated hearing test done on September 14, 2021.

“That day changed our lives forever. We knew she couldn’t hear; however, we were unaware of the extent. We found out she has progressive severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. It’s progressing for unknown reasons at this time. Hopefully an MRI and CT will give us more answers.

“For the ones who don’t know, severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss is when you are only able to hear very loud speech or loud sounds. People with this kind of hearing loss cannot hear speech at a conversational level and loud sounds are mainly perceived as vibrations. She is completely deaf in her left ear, and in her right, she could maybe hear a jet plane only if the plane was right beside her.

“Anyone who knows Annaleigh knows that she is the happiest baby girl there is. She’s always been a good baby and always is smiling. She loves books, blocks and baby dolls. She’s attached to my hip, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

“Jerald and I are trying to stay positive through this new journey and it’s only the beginning. There’s so much for us to learn and to teach her. We just want our baby girl to be able to hear our voices and for us to be able to read to her. Communication at this age is very important and she is already behind.”

The Jenkins family is learning American Sign Language as a form of communication.

Joey Coburn organized a GoFundMe for the Jenkins family. He is a friend of Jerald’s and co-worker at the MCSO.

“It does not take much to fall in absolute love with Annaleigh,” he said. “From her infectious smile, to her love for all things food, and curls for days, she deserves so much. Annaleigh, Brandie and Jerald are our family. We love them more than we can ever express, and we are asking everyone to come together in prayer – prayers for the doctors and medical staff, Jerald and Brandie and sweet Annaleigh.”

On the GoFundMe page, Coburn posted: “With the overwhelmingly large number of unknowns, the constant doctor’s visits out of town, and ability to aid Brandie, Jerald, and their family with the resources to have to potentially learn sign language, we are asking for donations in whatever amount God lays on your heart.”

As of Monday, 83 donors had raised $8,745 raised of the $10,000 goal.

Other fundraisers are also in progress. To support the family or follow their story, go to Ears for Annaleigh on Facebook.