Actress Rita Simons has given an exclusive interview to HELLO! magazine in which she reveals daughter Maiya will undergo a life-changing operation to enable her to hear. The six-year-old girl is profoundly deaf in her right ear and has only limited hearing in her left one.
Now, after much soul-searching, the Albert Square star and her husband Theo Silveston have decided that Maiya will undergo a cochlear implant operation to give her hearing in both ears.
Without the surgery – which will give Maiya the sensation of sounds – she will become proufoundly deaf. Yet Rita reveals that she and Theo have faced serious opposition to the decision.
"The hostility we've encountered has been extraordinary," Rita told HELLO!.
"It comes mainly from people who firmly believe that deafness should be embraced rather than treated as a physical deficiency that should be corrected.
"I totally respect their point of view. But when a 19-year-old girl told me that I was an 'abuser' to let my child have a cochlear implant, I was horrified and deeply hurt.
"I would throw myself in front of a bus for my girls, and yet I was being judged by someone who didn't know me or understand my emotional stance at all. "We know it's not a miracle cure and her hearing won't be perfect.
"But, in time her brain will process what it is hearing and compensate, making sounds more familiar to her."
Maiya's twin sister Jaimee has perfect hearing. And the actress says that the family is determined to treat the two girls the same.
"We've brought Maiya up as a hearing child, and she attends the same mainstream school as her twin sister," Rita explained. "She was born with some hearing; when that goes completely it will leave a void in her life and she will miss it.
"All we want to do is give her back what she has lost and help to expand her life. If you've got the opportunity to give your child the gift of sound, why would you not do that?"
To read more of the interview with Rita, including how Maiya reacted to the news, what the little girl wants to be when she gets older and how she shares a special bond with her twin sister, pick up the latest issue of HELLO!.