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By Tori Heninger, A House Institute cochlear implant patient

I want to thank the House Institute and especially, Dr. William Luxford, my cochlear implant surgeon 3 times over, for helping me with my journey towards a better life through listening, language, and learning. 

I was born profoundly deaf in both ears. At 10 months old, my mother and I had traveled a long way to visit the John Tracy Clinic (JTC). It was at JTC that a kind family gave up their appointment with Dr. Luxford so that I could be seen by him. At the time, the FDA had only begun approving cochlear implants for children two and a half years earlier.

I was able to get my first hearing aid at 12 months and my first cochlear implant at 3 years. In today’s world, that is late, but thanks to the cochlear implant and wonderful audiologists, auditory verbal therapists, and teachers along the way, I was able to attend a mainstream elementary school by the third grade. I chose to get a second implant at 15 years old. At the time that I had already been in the orchestra, which I followed throughout high school. I did have a hard failure on that new side, but it was explanted and re-implanted again by Dr. Luxford.

Tori and Dr. William Luxford, MD

The year I had a hard failure was a tough one for me. I was in my freshman year at my university, and everything was so new and difficult. After re-implantation, I took a year off and did an internship at Disney World, Orlando. It was a difficult yet wonderful time for me! I am an introvert, so I had to push myself to work 12+ hour shifts and face thousands of people each day. I’ve worked in the customer service industry for over 8 years now!

Though I cannot say that life was easy, I can say that the cochlear implant allowed me to follow my passions, including piano, violin, viola, orchestra, swim team, travel, and of course, I had the opportunity to attend University. I was also able to work throughout high school and higher education.  

I am currently finishing up a double major at the University of North Texas. I know that soon, I will be entering the world and seeking a “real job.” The experience is scary but exciting at the same time. I don’t know if I will continue on with a master’s degree or not, but I’ll let y’all know soon!

Tori and her sister Francesca

I am so grateful for the gift of hearing. I am grateful that my Mom had saved an article on the cochlear implant from a scientific magazine that was written so many years before my birth! I am grateful for the fact that she believed in both my sister and me and that she did not give up even when there were many obstacles in our lives.

Thank you, House Institute, for making a difference!

Read Tori’s sister’s story: Being Deaf Never Stood in My Way by Francesca Heninger


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