IM this article to a friend!

October 2, 2012

Baby's first sounds

From: Record Herald - ‎Oct 2, 2012

Baby's first sounds Surgery saves hearing for 13-month-old girl
Ryan Carter
Managing Editor

Following a successful surgery at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus on Friday, 13-month-old Suncea Gregory is expected to hear her very first sound on Oct. 16.

Suncea, who lives with her grandmother near Jeffersonville, was born profoundly deaf due to a genetic mutation called "Connexin 26." The disorder can occur when both parents are carriers of the gene.

"She was diagnosed about a month-and-a-half after her birth at Children's," said Jackie Cannon, Suncea's grandmother. "It's very rare. But being able to diagnose it pretty early and knowing that both parents have to be carriers made her a prime candidate for the surgery."

The special surgery was a cochlear implant, which is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. Some of the basic parts of the device include one or more microphones which pick up sound from the environment, and a speech processor, which selectively filters sound to prioritize audible speech.

"The surgery was very successful," said Joni Behrends, who is Suncea's godmother. "The nerve jumped when it was stimulated in response to the implant. The surgery took over five hours....about two-and-a-half hours for each ear."

On Oct. 16 at Children's, Suncea will have her first tune-up and doctors will check the magnet site, according to Cannon.

"They'll activate the implant and do the mapping, and then we'll go back on Oct. 23 and do the second tune-up," Cannon said. On each visit, the sounds will be increased as Suncea is able to handle more and more.

Suncea will also attend speech therapy two to three times a week. It could take up to four years for her to catch up to normal speech, but her family is just thrilled that she is able to begin that journey.

Prior to her surgery, Behrends shared a photo of Suncea and her story on Facebook. Before the family knew it, the photo was shared over 700 times and received over 25,000 "likes" on the site. And now, officials at Children's Hospital want to turn Suncea's story into a commercial.

"The response has been unbelievable," said Cannon. "We didn't intend for any of this attention to happen, but it's great for awareness of this genetic disorder. The younger a child can be diagnosed with this, the better the chances are of that child being able to speak and hear. It's such a blessing that Suncea has been able to have this surgery. The response from the community has been phenomenal."

@2012 Record Herald