60 Years of Cochlear Implants

Jun 15, 2021 | Donor Spotlight – Your Stories, House Institute Foundation

At the House Institute, we have seen firsthand the powerful ways in which hearing technology can change lives. This year, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of William House, MD, restoring hearing to the profoundly deaf, we also celebrate the lives that have been forever touched by this remarkable technology. To date, over 737,000 individuals have been implanted worldwide. These are just a few of their stories:

Viviane

I feel so privileged to be the recipient of a cochlear implant that I received in 2015, implanted by Dr. Derald Brackmann, who gave me back a major part of my life. I was working when I knew my hearing loss was impairing my ability to do my best. I managed two large medical practices. My husband also became terminally ill. I knew I had no other option but to get a cochlear implant. I needed to do my best at work, communicate with my husband’s physicians, and I wanted to hear my husband’s last words. Hearing aids no longer benefited me. My right ear was implanted, which was completely deaf. Now I’m considering going bilateral since my left ear is nearly deaf. I am grateful for Dr. William House’s brilliance and his willingness to educate others. Because of him and his pupils, many can now communicate with employers and loved ones and get around town independently. The photo to the left is of my grandson and I, another major factor for getting the CI.

Richard

It’s a given that I will never be a normal-hearing person, but with this implant, I will never be completely deaf. My hiking buddies marvel that I can hear them through COVID masks (something that would be nearly impossible precochlear implant). It’s a new world, unhushed and lush with sound, and I highly recommend this Medicare-covered “miracle” of scientific diligence to anyone who needs to break their own sound barriers. As I said to my friends on January 1st … “Happy New Ear!” (Taken from Ojai Quarterly, Spring 2021, p. 110 -112)

William

William did not pass his newborn screening test, but, as babies born by cesarean section often fail due to fluid in the ear, it was not an immediate cause for concern. However, after three and a half hours of testing in the sound booth, their family learned that William was bilaterally profoundly deaf in both ears.

The CDC recommends that an infant be 12 months old before their cochlear implantation. William’s mom Erica and her family proved that the waiting period would not change circumstances for William and made strong arguments to their insurance provider to approve the surgery prior to 12 months. As we know that early intervention makes for the best results.

William had just turned 7 months old when he was able to undergo bilateral cochlear implant surgery. “William was so excited to hear. He smiled and cooed and laughed,” Erica said, reminiscing on his activation at 8 months.

William is now two and a half years old. He is undergoing auditory verbal speech therapy to learn how to listen. After not hearing in the womb or for the first eight months of his life, he is subject to being behind the curve and prone to listening fatigue. Noisy environments are a struggle for anyone listening through a cochlear implant. However, William is a trail blazer and has already caught up and is in some ways more advanced when compared to his hearing aged peers, which are incredible results within such a short amount of time.

“We are so thankful that he gets to hear and experience the gift of sounds. Hearing my voice and my husband’s voice for the first time is something we will never forget nor take for granted,” says Erica. “William loves to communicate and listens so well. One of his favorite things is to listen and dance and sing to music. He loves it!”

Michelle

Words can’t begin to describe how much my cochlear implant has improved the quality of my life. I can now hear clearly the sweet words my grandchildren speak! I can hear the breeze blowing through the palm trees, birds chattering away, and so many environmental sounds that make life more enjoyable. I love the direct streaming from the TV! The ability to understand people on the phone is a godsend, especially when it involves technical and other information critical to my needs. I continue to work on music appreciation, and those situations where sorting out conversation is more challenging, such as parties and restaurants. Still, I am amazed at how quickly I’ve adapted to hearing in this new way! I can’t thank you enough, House Institute, for this life-changing cochlear implant! Can’t wait to try out the Nucleus 7 Aqua device in the pool with the grandkids this summer!

Nancy

I have been a patient at The House Institute for 48 years. I started to lose hearing, and it was thought to be from a virus. As the years went on, the right ear went deaf. I had the implant and was fortunate to hear immediately and need no further therapy. What a delight as I could literally hear the birds sing as promised! It was shocking how much I really could not hear before.

A year later, my left ear had a sudden hearing loss. I am totally deaf. Without the cochlear miracle, I would not be able to hear at all. I cannot begin to tell anyone interested how grateful I am that this was invented, and I was able to have the implant. It has been almost 6 years since I had the surgery. At the time, I was asked why I wanted it. Here is a photo of my 75th birthday (I am in the middle of the back row.) I think you will see why I wanted to hear! It allows me to be a part of my family.

Thank you, Dr. William House, for pioneering and inventing this life-changing technology.

You can play a role in the future of the cochlear implant and the Institute’s cutting-edge scientific programs by investing in our research, education, and global hearing health efforts for the countless deserving patients still to come. Donate now.