Being Deaf Never Stood in My Way

May 28, 2021 | Donor Spotlight – Your Stories, House Institute Foundation

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By Francesca Heninger, A House Institute cochlear implant patient

Sister Tori (right) and baby Francesca

Even before I was born, the doctors knew that something was off about me. My mother was sure that I would be born deaf because my older sister is also deaf. Sure enough, I was born with a profound, bilateral hearing impairment. I received my first pair of hearing aids before my first month. My Mom knew exactly what to do. She took me across state lines to the House Institute. When I was about 12 months old, I had my first cochlear implant with Dr. William Luxford.

By the time I got to third grade, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. People often thought that having these two diagnoses would make life difficult. However, I have never seen my deafness as a disability. It is a part of who I am. Rather, I find myself fortunate to live at a time when technology such as the cochlear implant has progressed enough to help people like me succeed in life.

When I was in eighth grade, I got my second implant with Dr. Luxford.

Unfortunately, as great as technology can be, sometimes there can be defaults. My sister Tori and I got a bad batch of internal devices and had hard failures on our “new side.” Our hard failures were a year apart from each other. We went back to the House Institute and to Dr. Luxford, for our explant/re-implant. We may have moved to different states, but the House Institute was always a part of our lives!

Francesca is a recent graduate of the University of North Texas

Being deaf and using a cochlear implant never stood in my way of achieving being the best I can be. All throughout high school, I was on the golf team. I was on the honor roll and honors society. Recently, in the spring of 2021, I graduated with two majors and a minor from the University of North Texas.

I am grateful and fortunate, to have had such a strong supporting group like the House Institute as a child who helped guide my family through our cochlear implant journeys. The House Institute guided my mother so that we could have a better future. I am also very lucky to have a best friend, my sister, who went through the same journey as me and can understand what I am going through. I am also very thankful to Dr. Luxford who has always been there for me and for the audiology team (Margaret Winter especially) who constantly checked up on us and our equipment to ensure we were doing well.

Last but not least, I’m thankful for my mother who always stood up for my sister and me, and, when we were kids, made sure our teachers understood the importance of our equipment and what to do if anything happened. She helped my sister and I learn about the parts of the implant and how to explain them to people, which has been a great benefit to me. I have to say thank you to all those people who helped us and continue to help us on our journey.

Read Francesca’s sister’s story: The Gift of Hearing by Tori Heninger


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