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August 11, 2003

Shoshoni woman hears following implant

From: Billings Gazette, MT - Aug 11, 2003

RIVERTON - A Shoshoni woman whose hearing has been impaired most of her adult life can hear country music and her children's voices again after receiving a cochlear implant.

The first sound she heard was her husband, asking her at the doctor's office if the implant was working. Kathryn DeWitt, 29, was overwhelmed, and cried nearly the entire drive home from Denver at the joy of hearing again.

Doctors suspect DeWitt was born deaf in her right ear or lost the sense due to an illness. Hearing in her left ear also gradually deteriorated, leaving her nearly deaf.

A tiny, coil-shaped electrode was implanted in her left ear June 4, and DeWitt spent nearly a month in silence as she waited for the incision to heal.

In early July, a processor was inserted into the device and DeWitt could hear again.

Some voices, however, sound somewhat cartoonish and DeWitt is still learning subtle differences in tone and inflection.

The implant, DeWitt said, has boosted her confidence. She's learning new sounds every day and soon plans to take on another challenge - college.

"I had become a recluse," DeWitt said. "Now I get out and visit friends and talk on the telephone."

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.