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April 3, 2004

Starting Deaf Babies Out with a Cochlear Implant

From: WAFF - Huntsville,AL,USA - Apr 3, 2004

Baby Amanda has lived in a world all her own, a completely silent world for all of her nine and a half months. Although it hasn't affected her sunny disposition one bit, Amanda was born virtually deaf.

Kerry, Amanda's mother said, "If a plane were to take off in front of her, everything lower than that, she can't hear. She can't hear a conversation, she can't hear sirens when we're walking in the street. It's scary."

But today, a whole new world is about to open up for Amanda. She's going to hear for the first time in her life.

Just three weeks ago Amanda had a cochlear implant put in, a highly sophisticated electronic device combining a microphone, computerized signal processing and 22 electrodes that directly stimulate the nerves of hearing.

Doctors have recently been implanting babies like Amanda because of what happens to kids who can't hear during their first three years of life.

Dr. Susan Waltzman, NYU Medical Center said, "They will be delayed in terms of language and it's very difficult to catch up. If you do children who are very young, you are giving them the opportunity to perhaps be on a trajectory with their normal hearing peers."

Today, audiologists at NYU are going to turn the implant on for the first time.

This is just the beginning of a life-long process of programming, tuning and adjusting the implant to give Amanda her best possible hearing.

Amanda's father Ron said, "It's amazing. It's amazing. It's a feeling that you really can't describe because you hope again now she can go mainstream. She can be like everyone else."

Kerry said, "It's nothing short of miracle. This is amazing. A couple of days ago our child was still deaf and today she's in the hearing world. We have no doubt that she is going to learn how to speak that she's going to go to a mainstream school and she's going to fulfill every potential that she has."

As she grows and develops, doctors will need to adjust and reprogram the implant. While the implant should give Amanda good enough hearing to develop normal speech and language, she is still deaf. When she takes the external part of the device off, she still won't be able to hear.

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