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November 13, 2002

Sound Is Golden: Cochlear Implant Rescues Man From Silent World

From: WAVE, KY
Nov. 13, 2002

By Connie Leonard

(LOUISVILLE, November 13th, 2002, 5 p.m.) -- A hearing impaired Louisville man now has a new lease on life. Several weeks ago, 28-year-old Scott Heuser had cochlear implant surgery. On Wednesday the implant was activated, allowing him to hear for the first time. WAVE 3's Connie Leonard was there when he heard his first sounds.

At the campus of the Louisville Deaf Oral school and Heuser Hearing Institute, young students learn how to function in a hearing world. One of the school's former students, Scott Heuser, has been living and working in that world for 28 years.

Reading lips and using a high-powered hearing aid, his family thought he was getting by, until his mom, Kathy Coons, went to a college class with him.

"He wasn't hearing anything they were saying," Kathy says, "and I was flabbergasted."

Now Scott, the grandson of the Institute's founder, has taken a big step, allowing his cochlear implant to be turned on.

Scott's therapist, Cheryl Donaldson, first tests the implant, so the vibrations won't be too loud.

Then as the final adjustments were made, Scott's ears picked up for the first time the sounds most of us take for granted.

Confused, he tried to process all the sound in the room from the computer fan to feedback to his family.

How does it feel to hear? It feels weird," Scott says.

His mom couldn't wait for her son to hear his first song. "He loves that feel of music and he thinks he knows it, but, his words are never the right words."

For now, Scott just wants to listen to his strange, new world. "Whatever there is to find," he says. "Birds, music -- who knows, I might have to go into a park or something and just sit there."

Cochlear implants are becoming more popular, thanks to technology and celebrities like Rush Limbaugh and former Miss America Heather McCallum who have had the procedure.

The 2002 Louisville Antique Show will benefit the Louisville Deaf Oral School. If you'd like to help and check out the antiques, the show is being held at the Gardens on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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