Baby Hears Mother’s Voice For The First Time

By  //  June 7, 2012

Child Health

(Florida Hospital Video)

ORLANDO, FLORIDA–There was not a single dry eye in the exam room as one-year-old Jaely’s double cochlear implants were turned on for the very first time.  Parents Tadzia and Jorge smiled as they watched their little girl respond to their voices and the noises around her, knowing their year long journey to help their little girl hear was finally coming to an end.

One year old Jaely Jorge hears her mother’s voice for the first time when the cochlear implants are turned on following the double cochlear implant procedure. (Florida Hospital image)

Jaely Jorge is the first patient in Central Florida to undergo a double cochlear implant procedure. Thanks to Dr. Joshua Gottschall, medical director of the pediatric ENT program at Florida Hospital for Children, Jaely can now, for the first time, hear the sounds of her parents’ voices.

“Today, I was able to tell my little girl ‘I love you’ and I know she was able to hear it for the first time,” said Tadzia Jorge, Jaely’s mother.

After living the first year of her life in silence, Dr. Joshua Gottschall, medical director of the Ear, Nose and Throat Program at Florida Hospital for Children, performed Central Florida’s first double cochlear implant on Jaely Jorge.  Having the implants finally turned on was the final step in the journey for the family.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, a cochlear implant is a small, complex electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing.  Generally patients only receive one cochlear implant at a time, but due to the benefits of receiving a bilateral implant, the number of double cochlear implants is growing.

Dr. Joshua Gottschall, at work here, was the first surgeon in Central Florida to perform a double cochlear implant to correct deafness. (Florida Hospital image)

“Only recently has bilateral cochlear implant surgery become widely accepted, but I strongly believe it is a great option for children who qualify,” said Dr. Gottschall.  “With double cochlear implants, deaf children are able to hear out of both ears, which has several advantages that those of us who can hear often take for granted.”

Patients who receive bilateral cochlear implants have functional advantages including sound localization, sound discrimination, and elimination of head shadowing, the phenomena where sound coming to the “deaf” ear has to pass through the head to be heard.  These are all advantages that deaf children implanted with single implants do not benefit from.

“When Jaely’s cochlear implants were turned on, she started to cry and it was overwhelming,” said Tadzia. “Jaely had never cried like that before. I know she was crying because she could hear herself for the first time. It was amazing.”

Dr. Gottschall

Over the next several weeks, parents Tadzia and Jorge will have to slowly accommodate Jaely to the sounds around her and bring her to audiology therapy every couple of weeks.

“We are so grateful to Dr. Gottschall and the entire Florida Hospital team,” said Tadzia. “The moment her cochlear implants were turned on, I knew Jaely’s life would be changed for the better.”

Florida Hospital for Children offers a comprehensive pediatric cochlear implant program that provides care to patients throughout Central Florida.