School is traumatic enough for the first timers but a whole family in Lubbock is feeling a lot of anxiety as they are in a rush to buy what their son needs most before that first day of kindergarten; a new ear.
"Lazarus and Jonah are more than best friends. They're twins. Jonah was a picture of good health but Lazarus came into this world with some challenges a cleft lip and palate and both ears were small and deformed," said Melissa Paula the boy's aunt.
"I just wanted him to feel whole and complete," said Paula Amaya, the boy's mom. It took many surgeries to rebuild the palate and give Lazarus a new reason to smile but his ears were a bigger challenge.
"He was born with no ear canal and no formal ear. He had a conductive hearing loss. This device, the hearing aid, picks up the noise and sends it through a titanium screw right into his cochlear and so he's able to hear," said Dr. Cordero a TTUHSC head and neck surgeon.
Dr. Cordero removed the deformed ears to make way for a special hearing aid that literally snaps onto his head. Then, in Dallas, artists sculpted prosthetic ears on both sides. But it wasn't long after returning to Lubbock that a minor mishap cost him one of those new ears.
"He was out petting the dog and the dog jumped on him and knocked him down and not realizing when he was down that one had popped off because they are just held on by magnets. By the time we found out it was missing, the dog had already gotten a hold of it," said Paula.
So after rushing to get Lazarus his new look before school starts he is now missing one ear with that first day of kindergarten just two weeks away. An ear that will cost three thousand dollars to replace.
"They don't come with a lifetime warranty. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to build them , to custom to him and the color his skin, so it takes a lot of effort so, most insurance companies consider it a plastic appliance so they won't pay and if you lose it, they think well, that's too bad," said Dr. Cordero.
Lazarus has been promised a new ear, and that's a promise that his uncle and parents, Fred and Paula, are determined to keep because they watched Lazarus become a different little boy when he had two new ears.
"When he did receive them, you could see a change in his attitude, his self-esteem, his confidence. When it was gone, you could tell a difference. He was missing something and he wanted it back. He was sad," said Paula.
Perhaps the only person more excited about getting Lazarus a new ear is his brother, Jonah who considers that ear a part of "them." "When we get a new ear, I'm still gonna take care of him," said Jonah.
Since insurance will not cover the cost of a replacement ear family and friends are trying to raise the three thousand dollars they need to replace the missing ear before school starts. Fundraiser's include the sale of Diva Candles and the proceeds go to buy Lazarus an ear. So does the ten dollar entry fee from a three on three basketball tournament at Emmanuel Worship Center this Friday and Saturday.
For information on the tournament or the candle sales, call 744-4893. Or you can make donations to the Lazarus medical fund at any branch of American State Bank.