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Born Deaf in Both Ears, Elle Now Hears with Cochlear Implants

As a vibrant and active girl, 9-year-old Elle loves soccer, basketball, and taekwondo. She was also born profoundly deaf in both ears.

Only 24 hours after being born, Elle failed a series of hearing tests, confirming a nightmare scenario for her parents. “I got a sick feeling in my stomach,” says her father Dave. “What if she can’t hear? You have all this love and you want your child to know it.”

Luckily, Elle was an ideal candidate for bilateral cochlear implant surgery in the Pediatric Ear, Hearing, and Balance Center at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. “Cochlear implants are really an incredible innovation of science,” says Daniel Lee, MD, director of pediatric otology and neurotology. “It can be an opportunity to be able to provide hearing in a situation where nothing else can help.”

A cochlear implant is an electronic device that provides sound perception to patients with hearing loss in both ears. Patients can benefit from the implant’s ability to help with lip reading, perception of environmental sounds, and monitoring one’s own voice.

While cochlear implants can aid patients with hearing loss at any age, Elle was lucky to receive hers so early in life. “When I first met Dr. Lee, just walking in that room, I felt hope,” says Elle’s mother Moi.

After three weeks of recovery time following the surgery, Elle’s activation day proved the bilateral cochlear implants were working.

“The success of Elle is truly a team effort,” says Dr. Lee. “It starts with the family, it ends with the family. It also includes a family of Mass. Eye and Ear providers.”

For more information on cochlear implants and pediatric ear, nose, and throat services at Mass. Eye and Ear, visit masseyeandear.org.