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June 18, 2004

Hailey Hearing With Both Ears Now

From: KXAN-TV - Austin,TX,USA - Jun 18, 2004

Imagine going from being profoundly deaf to hearing out of both ears. That's what's happened to a Round Rock girl we first introduced to you a couple years ago.

News 36 follows Hailey Smith through her latest milestone in hearing.

"She's just a happy go lucky kiddo," father Bryant Smith said.

Like most two year olds, Hailey Smith loves art.

"She loves music, dancing and singing. Loves for Mommy to sing to her," mother Heather Smith said.

But when she was born, odds were against her ever even hearing her mother's voice or the music she loves.

"She was identified at birth with no hearing through an audio brain stem response. So hearing aids would never really help Hailey," Clinical Audiologist Jennifer Lake said.

"We didn't know what we were going to do. We didn't know if we were going to have to do sign language. I think we were frustrated and concerned not only for her, but what were we going to do to help her with the environment she'd have to grow up in not being able to hear," Bryant said.

"That was a really hard time, but then we found out she had the opportunity of cochlear implant," Heather said, "She was just under 11 months when she had her first surgery and she was just under one when they turned on her left ear."

"Ms. Hailey we're going to work on fixing your right ear now and making you hear," Lake said, "The process you're looking at today is the hook up of her second cochlear implant."

"You and I have two ears so we hear in stereo. We're able to hear in stereo. We're able to hear in background noise. We don't find ourselves having to turn one way or the other to have to pick up sounds. So by giving Hailey the second cochlear implant, we're providing that for her," Lake said.

"She's trying to decide whether she's going to get upset or not. Mom says it's OK. Hailey mumbles. Mom says it's good; it's good," Lake said.

"What I'm doing now is I'm just trying different noises, frequencies to make sure she doesn't react or respond in a way that would indicate it's too loud," Lake said.

"The new side will probably catch on like the other side has. From the hearing standpoint, we've taken a child from the profound hearing loss range and given her hearing about the 30-35 decibel range. Which is mild loss so it would kind of be be like you walking around with your fingers in your ears but not quite," Lake said.

"I wanted to start crying, but I didn't want to upset her. I'm just thrilled it's just a miracle, absolute miracle," Heather said.

"So it's been a long road. She's come a long way. It's not over yet she'll have a lot to go but she's doing very well," Heather said.

Hailey's audiologist says she's seeing a trend of more children and adult patients choosing two cochlear implants over one.

As for Hailey, this weekend she's enjoying a camp in Houston for children with cochlear implants.

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