When our son Johannes was born, routine newborn hearing screening carried out in the hospital 2 days after his birth indicated that deafness in both ears was suspected. This first diagnosis was a shock.
However, since none of our relatives were hearing impaired, we hoped this was a mistake and that the next screening would have a better outcome. More hearing tests and an ABR measurement were carried out when he was four and six weeks old, confirming that our little Johannes was severely hearing impaired. At first we could not and would not believe it. Johannes was immediately fitted with hearing aids, which unfortunately were completely unsuccessful. He did not respond to sound no matter how loud they were. He only responded to visual stimuli. An examination confirmed that Johannes showed no hearing response at 120 dB.
Immediately after the first hearing screening, my husband and I found out everything we could about deafness. During our research, we came across cochlear implants. We had close contact with parents of hearing-impaired children who had also been treated with cochlear implants and they gave us invaluable information about their experiences. Soon we decided on an implant.
The preliminary examinations were promising; the CI team at Würzburg, Germany, recommended immediate implantation. Following consultation with the pediatrician, the anesthesiologist and the ENT doctor, who encouraged prompt treatment, we decided on a MED‑EL cochlear implant. Johannes got through the operation without any problems. During the short stay in hospital, his first tooth came in, and he learned to turn over. The whole CI team were a great support to us emotionally.
The first fitting took place 6 weeks later. We had longed for this day but we were fearful, too. Would our little boy respond? Would he be able to hear? The audiologist in attendance played with a triangle. When Johannes heard the first sound he looked astonished and began to laugh. We were really shocked by this intense reaction from our little boy. We were overjoyed! The game repeated with each sound. When the sound of triangle could no longer be heard, Johannes also stopped laughing. Since Johannes was still so young, we had decided to space the first fitting over 3 days and the next 2 days were just as successful as the first.
We watched, full of joy as Johannes was able to hear sounds in his environment. Even after only a few weeks we could see his progress. Johannes dozed off and would be awoken by a loud noise and he would immediately look for the source of the noise. In the meantime Johannes has started to make sounds and babble. However, without the CI he does not make a sound.
We work intensively with Johannes and speak to him a lot. Early stimulation also has made a considerable contribution to his success. His progress with the CI has taken away our fear of deafness. We are leading quite a normal life with Johannes and taking part in lots of activities. Children with normal hearing accept him with his CI. They just want to know what Johannes is wearing on his ear and after it is explained, they play with Johannes just like they would with a child with normal hearing. I can only report that I am very enthusiastic about our MED‑EL CI and would like to encourage other parents who are facing the same decision as we did then to have the courage to take the step and let their child be implanted.
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