FORT WORTH, Texas - A Texas toddler heard sound for the first time on Tuesday thanks to a special implant.
Anna and Will Esler knew something was wrong when their newborn, Ayla, failed a hearing test.
“It was determined that she had profound hearing loss,” Anna Esler said.
They worried that she would never be able to hear or to speak. They were worried for her future. So they explored every available option, trying to find a way to help their child hear.
Their quest to help the 1-year-old girl led them to Cook Children’s Hospital, more than five hours from the family’s home in Amarillo. The hospital had experience in the field. It was there that doctors performed a four-hour surgery and implanted a cochlear device in both of Ayla’s ears.
“We like to have kids early because when we do that, we find that those kids aren't delayed in speech, language, and learning and they compete with all their other hearing piers,” Cook Children’s Hospital audiologist Lisa Christensen said.
Those implants were switched on for the first time on Tuesday and one of the first sounds that Ayla heard was her mother crying tears of joy.
“When I saw her happy and dancing and responding to sound for the first time in her life I just lost it because we've been waiting a long time for that,” Anna Esler said.
Now that she can hear, her father sings to her. It’s a moment that he’s been waiting for.
“She calmed down this morning when I was singing to her,” Will Esler said. “It was pretty special.”
Ayla will soon start auditory verbal therapy to get her up to speed. She’ll carry the internal portion of the implant with her for the rest of her life. The external portions will be upgraded as technology improves. She should be able to hear as well as the rest of her peers.
“There was a year of no hearing,” Anna Esler said. “No sound input. So she'll be behind for a while but she's a smart girl, and we know she can do this, We're excited.”