'Just a little different:' 4-year-old Pinehurst boy doesn't let deafness stop him from being a kid

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PINEHURST, N.C. (WTVD) -- Owen is a typical 4-year-old. The Pinehurst boy is shy when meeting new people, likes to color and enjoys being outside on his scooter.

He is the youngest of April Eilert's two kids. Even though he seems like the average child, he's unique.

"He doesn't know that his ears are just a little different," Eilert said. "He's very independent and very confident and very proud."

Owen was born with bilateral microtia and artesia, and has the most advanced stage.

After birth, doctors discovered that his outer ear didn't develop and his ear canal was closed. Owen had been born deaf.

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Eilert thought she could just teach her son American Sign Language but soon realized that there was something more she could do.

She started researching Owen's condition and found there's possibly a solution that could fully restore his hearing.

A doctor in California could fix Owen's ears through a series of surgeries. The operations will allow Owen to have fully functioning ears like his future classmates and peers.

Right now, Owen can hear with his bone-anchored hearing aid (BaHa).

For Eilert, a single mother, future surgeries have become a bit pricey.

"It was overwhelming when we started talking about the price," she said.

The cost was not covered by insurance so she started a GoFundMe page.

Owen had his first of three surgeries recently where he and his mom spend nearly a month in California. The trip was lengthy as Own needed routine check-ups and could not fly.

Eilert has been saving money and has taken out a loan to pay for the surgeries. She's even received donations from friends.

"People are just very interested in Owen," Eilert said. "He just grabs peoples attention and everyone wants to help."

Eilert wants other parents who may have children born with Owen's diagnosis to know they aren't alone.

"For other mothers, new mothers, that have a child, there's often a solution."
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