Cochlear Implant stories

Milbank boy receives Cochlear Implant, 'turned on' to new sound

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April 2016 KSFY abc


Cochlear Implants are paving the way for members of the deaf community to hear. That includes 3-year-old Quinn Bastian from Milbank. He's one of just a handful nationwide recently implanted for unilateral (or one-sided) hearing loss, something his family never thought possible. He was 'turned on' to sound for the first time at the Univ of South Dakota Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. "We found out he was deaf on the one side with screening in the hospital when he was born. Wonderful they could detect it so early. We found out at six months he was deaf for sure on the one side," Quinn's mom Melissa Bastian said. Quinn was later equipped with his only option at the time - the BAHA device that provided some hearing sensation by vibrations to the bones.

And then came time to consider the Cochlear Implant as a possible option. For many years, the Cochlear Implant was only an option for a limited amount of qualified patients. "What really makes Quinn unique is he doesn't have that severe-to-profound hearing loss. He has normal hearing in one ear. He's one of those few across the country, only a handful, who have received a Cochlear Implant with this specific hearing loss with normal or near-normal hearing and profound in the other ear.  Quinn underwent surgery as part of the device was implanted behind his right ear at Sanford Hospital on April 8th. Almost three weeks later, it came down to the moment of truth. He was turned on by the audiologist and reacted well to the sound through his new device. "It's amazing to watch him hear out of that ear. He's been pretty good to change his head. Neat to hear him react from the bad side," Melissa said. Even though Quinn's hearing loss condition isn't as severe, the opportunity to have that balanced hearing on both sides now will make a world of difference as he grows up

A gift from a stranger perfectly timed on eve of surgery

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May 2016 Rockhampton Bulletin

JACK'S tenth birthday is one he will never forget; thanks to the kindness of a stranger.

The Yeppoon boy and his mum Kylie Raymond were at the Spinnaker on Thursday night, celebrating his birthday.


After going to the bathroom, the pair returned to a staff member telling them "a lady has left a present here”.  "I thought it was a bit odd but I sat down," Kylie said. "We went and got it and we saw the note and the money. I asked who it was from and the staff told us there was a lady sitting behind us that just left and wanted to leave him a gift.” But the gift was special for another reason; it was Jack's last family outing before his cochlear implant surgery.

Jack has a rare chromosomal abnormality, so rare it has no name. Over his decade of life, Jack has had more than five surgeries, blood tests, scans and procedures. "He is profoundly deaf in his right ear, so he is finally having a cochlear implant," Kyle said. "For us it is not necessarily a major surgery because he has had many, including a brain surgery... but it is a massive commitment."

Kylie said Jack wasn't born deaf, but lost his hearing at eight-years-old, with the family spending the last two years convincing specialists an implant was the right way to go.

"(This woman) wouldn't have known that, and I just wanted her to know it was so special," she said."It's been very hard for us, when we get over one hurdle another pops up. Nothing like that has really happened before. All of our friends and family adore him and support us, but you don't expect that from strangers.”


Hearing impaired Aussie hip hop dancer Macy Baez 'feels' the music

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April 2016

Those who think you must be born hearing to have rhythm have never seen Macy Baez dance.  Her moves are as soulful, expressive and energetic as any young dancer with a passion for the craft.  But beneath her bandanna, cochlear implants are a sign she's had to overcome more than the competition to become one of Australia's most promising hip hop dancers. 


The 15-year-old from New South Wales was born profoundly deaf, but hasn't let this stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a professional dancer. "When I go to Sydney to battle I always have like a jam... where we all just dance together, learning new things from different people, we don't really judge each other, we just judge on the dance, not the person."  Macy is the face of Sony's new Extra Bass wireless speaker, appearing in a series of videos which showcase her talent, honed since she began dance lessons as an eight-year-old. She was inspired by artists such as Michael Jackson. 

"I always look back, how he deals with the music, and how he dances to it. That's what really made me want to dance.” Hip hop is like having another language by which to communicate, she says. "It feels like you can do anything."

Josh Fountain from Auckland's Level Two Music composed a hip hop-electro track with extra strong bass specifically for Macy, who, despite her cochlear implants, relies on the vibrations in a piece music to dance.  "When I listen to music, I feel the vibration from the speaker to the floor and that vibration from the floor goes to my feet," she explains. 

Macy received her first cochlear implant in her left ear in 2003, followed by hours of speech therapy. She received a second implant in her right ear in 2012. She still lip reads when conversing in noisy environments, because words can be difficult to decipher from competing sounds.  "It's hard for me to listen, because I have to listen very, very closely. When I go to dance comps, it'll be very loud with the music and it's hard for me to talk to one person at a time."

The videos, shot in Auckland over two days this month, tell Macy's story in her words, and those of her parents Roxanne and John.It was emotional to hear her parents discuss her deafness on camera, the teen says.  "I don't really hear or see my parents talk about my hearing and my dance. I'm normally the one showing my dance.” While in Auckland, Macy met New Zealand's reigning queen of hip hop Parris Goebel, whose school, The Palace Dance Studio, she hopes to attend one day. Macy's advice for others is simple: "I just want people to follow their dreams, be who they are, and never give up. I just always try to stay positive, and enjoy every moment." 

What Price Hearing?

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During my last visit with my counsellor, she asked me a very astute question. ‘What price do you pay to be in the hearing world?’ This was something I had never considered before and it required considerable thought over the following weeks. The conclusion that I eventually came to was that I pay a very heavy price to communicate in the hearing world.

To read more of Pat's story, go to this link

Viral cochlear implant videos critique

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The Limping Chicken April 2014, by Emily Howlett, a profoundly Deaf actress, writer, horsewoman and new mum        

Another cochlear implant (CI) switch on has gone viral, reaching widespread coverage not just on the internet forums but across the televised news and papers. One seems to capture the public imagination every so often, despite the fact there are literally hundreds floating around on YouTube and similar sites. It seems to be the ‘thing to do’ these days; film your switch-on session and upload it to the internet. 

But I’m not sure about the message sent out about deafness, and what CIs actually mean to a deaf person.  For example a recent video is being widely reported in the media as the first time the patient hears anything.  EVER. But moments after switch-on takes place, she can understand the days of the week being read to her, knows she is speaking with a Geordie accent and tells the audiologist that the sounds seem ‘too high’… Hang on, wait… Geordie accent?  This is the first time she has ever heard and she can not only speak, but with a recognisable accent?  That’s not a cochlear implant, that’s a miracle. 

Which is exactly my concern; this kind of fantastical reporting is doing nothing to help anyone, deaf or hearing, understand the realities of choosing to have and then living with a cochlear implant. Very few reports say exactly how long it has been since the patient has heard; most imply no hearing at all up until the magic cure.  A video of a more usual switch-on session, unless it features a particularly cute baby hearing mummy for the first time, never hits the big time. 

Although often emotionally charged, the immediate benefit of a cochlear implant is, for most recipients not that astounding. It’s either a return to a slightly different tone of hearing they accessed before, or a completely new and random sense of sound, which takes the brain a long time to process and begin to understand. These are the commonplace videos; the beginning of a long and often difficult journey of auditory rehabilitation.

Nobody wants to put those on BBC News or the front page of the papers, because they’re boring.