FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Nicholas Soma was born with deformed ears inside and out. His parents Nancy and Lance Soma are trying to raise money to pay medical expenses. This is Nicholas' ear prior to surgery.
Family seeks aid to fix child's ear
Nicholas Soma needs money for surgery to correct a deformity
When he was 2, Nicholas Soma started scrutinizing his small, misshapen ears in the mirror and asking his parents if he would ever have "big ears" someday.
» What: Spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Nicholas Soma
» When: Saturday, 3 to 6 p.m.
» Where: Nimitz Elementary School, 520 Main St.
» Cost: $10 for adults; $5 for children 5 to 12; free if under 4
» Entertainment: Live music, hula, fire-knife dancing, games.
» Tickets: Call Erma Soma, 456-5196; Lance Soma, 382-7662 or e-mail email@example.com.
For monetary donations
» Mail a check to: Friends of Nicholas Soma, c/o Bank of Hawaii, 850 Kamehameha Highway, Pearl City, HI 96782
» Walk into any Bank of Hawaii branch.
» Online through the www.chipin.com/contribute
Now through fundraisers this year, Nicholas has a new left ear after a March operation.
Nicholas "shows everybody his new ear. He says, 'I got one big ear!' He's so proud of it," said mother Nancy Soma. The Soma family's medical insurance would not cover surgical reconstruction of his ears until he was 7, even though his ear canals were closed and he was almost deaf without a hearing aid, said father Lance Soma.
The Ewa Beach couple is trying to raise another $50,000 to rebuild Nicholas' right ear in June at the Waverly Surgery Center in Palo Alto, Calif. They want him to have normal ears and improved hearing by the time he reaches first grade, Lance Soma said.
Born with only 20 percent of normal hearing, Nicholas has been wearing a headband hearing aid that sends sound vibrations through his skull to his brain, and boosts his hearing to about 65 percent. Nicholas no longer wants to wear the aid because, he said, "I can hear better."
Nicholas' hearing will be tested in a couple of weeks, but "we're guessing he can hear better," Lance Soma said. Nicholas also learned how to read lips and use sign language, but people are amazed how clearly he speaks after years of therapy, and having his family constantly reading and speaking to him, said Lance Soma.
Nancy Soma added, "We tried to feed him words. Repetition, repetition, every day. He likes to read books (with his grandmother Erma Soma) more than he likes watching TV. He can go hours and hours with her."
Nicholas has never complained about the pain and swelling associated with surgery, and is eager to have his next operation "so my ear can have an eye (hole) ... to make me happy," he said.
He used to wear his hair long enough to cover his ears, but two days before the operation, his head had to be shaved. His father decided to shave his head, too, for moral support.
As parents, the Somas were "sad and devastated" when they first learned of their son's disabilities, Nancy said. Although Nicholas is normal in every other way -- as well as precocious, outgoing and above average in intelligence -- Lance Soma said, "I would be lying if I said I feel OK about it. To have a child who is not normal -- it's sad for us."
"But we're making the best of it. Everybody takes having normal kids for granted. ... But God trusted us to care for him and gave him to us; we were lucky," Lance Soma said.