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September 24, 2004

From Silence To Sound: Deaf Man Hears For First Time

From: SanDiego, CA - Sep 23, 2004

Lane Adapts To Cochlear Implant Immediately

SAN DIEGO -- A San Diego man deaf since birth is now hearing sounds clearly for the first time, 10News reported.

Gary Lane, 38, (pictured, right) had struggled to thrive in a hearing world because he had 90 to 95 percent hearing loss.

"I continued to go through regular public school as much as they tried to kick me out," Lane said.

Hearing aids were not much help so Lane taught himself to read lips. And when there was not a face-to-face contact, Lane was in a world of silence.

Lane's quiet world turned into a noisy one six months ago when he got a cochlear implant.

"It allows the actual electrical impulses into where the nerves are located so that it can actually give the hearing nerve a chance to hear the sounds and carry them up to the brain. So the brain can interrupt those sounds," Scripps ear surgeon Dr. John Vaughen said.

It usually takes up to a year for the brain to make sense of all the new sounds. But it took only days for Lane.

"I haven't seen anyone like Lane respond as quickly as he did," audiologist Julie Johns said.

"He was actually on the phone talking to one of his co-workers at work and was able to carry on a brief conversation which was just totally amazing," Johns said.

What Lane heard during the first few minutes stunned him.

"Wow, it's a very noisy world out there," Lane said.

"He has gained from a 95 percent loss up to about a 20 percent loss," Vaughen said.

"It's pretty amazing to see how much his hearing has improved," daughter Amber Lane said.

Within weeks, Lane planned a trip to Yosemite to hear the beautiful sounds of nature for the first time.

"I went on a five-day backpacking trip in Yosemite to hear the waterfalls, the trees, the animals. It was just phenomenal," Lane said.

Lane said he enjoys having more father-daughter talks now.

"It's easier for me to talk with him because I tell my dad everything. So it easier for us to communicate because I don't have to wait for him to look at me and I can talk on the phone easier with him, Amber said.

Lane said he cherishes every sound and when it gets to be too much for he has options.

"It's always nice to have the option to turn everything off," he said.

More adults like Lane who have been hearing impaired since birth are getting cochlear implants. Vaughen said its because of recent improvements in technology.

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