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August 9, 2004

Gift of Hearing

From: WCJB, FL - Aug 9, 2004

By Vivian Richardson/ WCJB TV 20 News

Monday, local doctors were able to give a Florida teenager a very special gift. The gift of hearing.

Travis Koenke is a well-like 15-year-old boy. He plays football. He has a good sense of humor. His mom says he's hungry for success. But until a University of Florida audiologist turned on the microphone to his Cochlear Implant, Travis never had the chance to hear his mom say such nice things about him.

"I really just can't wait to get him home and love him and talk to him and tell him how proud I am," said Robin Koenke, Travis' mom.

The small room at the University of Florida Speech and Hearing Center is full of family, friends, and the press. They crowd around Travis, watching his face as Audiologist Katherine Gray sends a series of beeps and tones into the implant. Travis smiled when he first heard a soft sound. Later, he grimaces and shakes his head as the sounds become louder and more irritating.

After the testing, which helps Gray configure the implant, the microphone is turned on for the first time. It was decided that Travis' father, Warren, would be the first one to speak.

"Hello... I love you," said Warren. At first Travis could not hear much. But as the audiologist adjusts the levels, it seems Travis can't get enough. He claps near his ears. He knocks on the wall behind him. He listens to the ring of a cell phone. But it is all very new to him. Sometimes it seems to be too much. He tells the room to quiet down when everyone laughs at the same time.

UF Doctors implant around 50 Cochlear Implants each year. The procedure was first performed in Gainesville in 1985.

Content Copyright 2002 WCJB-TV20