Cochlear Implant

When Kelli and Michael’s 10-month-old daughter, Landry, was born deaf, the couple faced a difficult decision: let her grow up deaf, or allow her to undergo a controversial surgery to have a cochlear implant placed in her ear. The FDA does not approve of the implants until a child is 1 year old, but studies have shown that the earlier a child starts hearing, the better he or she adapts. Another concern is that once the implants are placed, they cannot be undone. “It ruins any residual hearing that she may or may not have,” Kelli says.

After trying many alternative therapies, the couple decided to have the implants placed in their daughter’s ears. “We pray we’re making the right decision by doing this,” Michael shares. 

The Doctors
cameras go inside the operating room and capture the surgery on tape. It is extremely rare for a baby to undergo this procedure, and Landry is one of the first babies her age to have the implants. The Doctors cameras were also there when Landry’s device was turned on one week after surgery. After a few tests, Landry responds to the sounds.

In the studio, E.R. physciain Dr. Travis Stork asks Kelli and Michael, “How has Landry done post-op?”

“She’s done better than we ever could have imagined,” Kelli says. “She was back to her old self three days after the surgery.”

Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears explains how the surgery is performed. “The cochlea is the part of the middle ear that converts the sound waves into nerve impulses that the brain can understand,” he says. “This is an implanted device that restores the damaged structures with a wire implanted into the cochlea.

The sound waves are received by a microphone that goes over the back of the ear. The sound then travels over a wire to a speech processor which converts it into a digital signal which is sent back to the transmitter and then goes down the wire into the cochlea, basically a digital signal that the brain perceives.” The device is turned on by placing a magnet on the child’s head.

“Is she more talkative now?” Dr. Travis asks.

“Oh, yeah,” Michael says.

“Do you really see a difference in how she interacts?” Dr. Jim asks.

“Hugely,” Kelli says.

“She’s already starting to mimic sounds,” Michael adds.