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April 30, 2007

The sounds of silence no longer

From: MyFox Tampa Bay - Tampa Bay,FL,USA - Apr 30, 2007

SARASOTA - Daryl and Jodi Allion already had two sons, but they wanted a daughter.

They went to China two years ago to adopt Alana, but before leaving, they saw another little girl.

The couple went back to China a year later and adopted Leah - a little girl, born deaf and abandoned by her biological parents at the local railroad station when she was 3-years-old.

The Allion's brought her back to Sarasota last fall - and then three weeks ago, Dr. Jack Wazen gave her a Cochlear Implant - surgically implanting an electrode behind her ear that stimulates the nerve endings. It allowed Leah to hear for the first time ever!

"It's amazing, the dogs backed last night - she grabbed her ears, we knew then she heard them! So that was a big celebration in our house. Yeah, she heard them!" said Jodi.

Dr. Wazen says he does 25 cochlear implants a year, but this is one he says he'll never forget.

"To do that on a child that was let go by society and to have this American family salvage her and bring her here," Wazen said.

Now, Jodi and Darryl are teaching her to speak. Her father says the past few weeks have been emotional.

"Knowing that for six years she's never heard anything, and now for the first time this whole new world has opened up, it's incredible," said Darryl.

Leah will start kindergarten this fall. Doctors predict she'll be out of the special needs class and be able to communicate with classmates in two years.

© 2007 MyFox Tampa Bay