Father Fights for His Baby

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HALLSVILLE - Ten-month-old baby Chase Melloway has a smile that will warm anyone's heart.  "He is so full of life.  He is one of the funniest babies I've ever seen.  I know I may be biased because he's my son, but this kid can make you laugh.  I think he might be a comedian whenever he gets older.  He's happy all the time, he's got a smile on his face, just great, full of life," Chase's father Jon Melloway said.

But Chase is different than most other babies.  "When Chase was first born I didn't even notice his ear at all.  He was born and it was just a miracle.  I mean you just have tears of joy coming out because there's your son.  And then as they were cleaning him up they noticed that his ear wasn't quite developed, and we tried asking the nurses about it and they kind of didn't know much about it.  We worried at first," Melloway said.

Chase has microtia.  The condition involves a stunted ear with no hearing.  The condition occours in only about one out 10,000 babies.  "There's really no cause of why this happens.  It's just random.  There's no way to prevent it," Melloway said.

Chase has trouble hearing, but down the road he also faces a possible speech impediment.  "We just want him to grow up and not be ashamed of it, and not try to hide it.  And just let all the other kids know he's just like them.  He can hear, he just only has one ear, instead of two,"  Melloway said. 

There are options to give Chase a second ear.  When he reaches five, doctors can either give him a prosthetic ear or build an actual ear out of his own tissue.  The surgical route could provide Chase with the best hearing.  A prosthetic would require a bone-anchored hearing aid.  "We really want to do whatever Chase decides.  Once he's five years old hopefully he can understand his condition and he can help make a decision with what he wants to do.  Either way we'll make it happen whatever he wants to do, " Melloway said.

The surgical option costs more but Melloway is willing to do anything for his son.  "He means everything.  He completely changed my life.  You know before him, in life, you weren't really sure what your meaning was, now that your son is here, that is your world now.  Chase is definitely my everything," Melloway said.