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A metro first grader was having a hard time keeping up in class. His parents hope that changes with the help of improved technology he’s the first to get in central Iowa.

School can be a struggle for first grader Ian Lantz. Mom Darci Lantz says, “It wasn’t until the end of preschool we started noticing things aren’t right.”

His parents started talking to teachers, visiting doctors and getting him tested. Mrs. Lantz says, “We actually thought going into this Ian had some focus attention issues and were kind of going down that route when we realized: oh my goodness, he’s been using his right ear to help his left ear. He’s basically deaf in his left ear.”

Doctors diagnosed Ian with Unilateral Auditory Neuropathy. Dr. Eytan Young says, “Ian has a very special kind of hearing loss. He has a one sided hearing loss, which means one of his ears simply does not work.”

Hearing aids and cochlear implants weren’t options, but something called a Baha device could help him hear out of both sides. The device used to stick out of the skull. But, the FDA recently approved a new option.

Dr. Young says, “Ian is very lucky because he’s the first child in central Iowa to receive a fully implantable device that no longer requires you to have anything coming through the skin. It’s a major breakthrough for children and adults for that matter.”

In February, Ian had the magnetic device implanted into his skull. Five weeks later, he came to the Iowa ENT Center to have the sound transmitter attached. The tiny transmitter can be easily put on and off. It could take a little time and a few adjustments for the first grader to get used to it. But, Ian says he can already tell a difference. He says, “I can hear better.”

Dad Bryan Lantz says, “It’s really impacted his learning, so we’re just really excited to see how that, how him hearing for the first time really helps him learn, so that will probably be the best thing.”

The implantable Baha device can cost $30,000. His parents found a new insurance policy to pay for the device.