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June 1, 2005

Missing earpiece replaced

From: Dallas Morning News, TX - Jun 1, 2005

Woman who lost device finds that people are willing to help

By RICHARD ABSHIRE / The Dallas Morning News

Good things have been happening for Jolene Arnold since what she thought was disaster.

She lost the earpiece for her cochlear implant at a Garland skating center.

She lost the earpiece that translates sounds into words as part of the cochlear implant that is her connection to the world of the hearing.

Ms. Arnold, a recreational therapist who is profoundly deaf, lost the earpiece at a Garland skating rink while working with a client.

She now has a replacement coming at far less than the $6,500 estimated cost. And her heart was warmed by the response after her story got media attention.

"I have gotten so many calls/e-mails from various people and groups that wanted to give me their support or simply let me know that I am in their thoughts and prayers," she said via e-mail.

Esther Kelly offered assistance through her organization, the Deaf Action Center in Dallas.

A woman Ms. Arnold didn't know wanted to give her an earpiece her child was no longer using. Ms. Arnold contacted Mary Lynn McDonald, her former audiologist at Houston Ear Research Foundation, about programming the donated piece and got bad news, then good news.

The bad news: The donated processor was not compatible with Ms. Arnold's implant.

Ms. McDonald suggested Ms. Arnold contact the manufacturer of the implant.

That's when the good news came.

"Turns out they give a one-time-only free replacement for lost or stolen implants," Ms. Arnold said. "So they will be sending me another one soon. I had no idea that they had this policy. I only had it for 10 months and hope this doesn't happen again because I have my whole life ahead of me!"

Ms. McDonald stressed the distinction between a cochlear implant – which is surgically implanted – and hearing aids, which are not beneficial for the profoundly deaf.

And making the implant a success involved a lot of hard work.

"She had eight years of profound deafness. That's a lot of years," Ms. McDonald said. "It's like you've not used your arm for eight years and suddenly we tell you to throw a baseball.

"It takes consistent, intensive auditory training. It's like physical therapy for your ears."

A friend is going to help Ms. Arnold pay for the cost of programming her replacement processor through his Knights of Columbus group.

There's more. The story about her loss mentioned she had played high school tennis.

"I also got an e-mail from a man that is in charge of finding deaf tennis players to represent the USA in the deaf Olympics!" she e-mailed. "He has asked me if I was interested and I definitely am open for that opportunity!"

E-mail or call 972-272-6591, ext. 244

© 2005 The Dallas Morning News Co.