This year, Q’ela Pierce heard her parents’ voices for the first time.
The three-year-old was born with significant hearing loss and failed her newborn hearing screening. When things didn’t get any better and she didn’t respond well to hearing aids, she became a candidate for a cochlear implant.
That was in January. Her surgery took place on August 29th at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Florida. But it wasn’t until October 3rd – when her incision fully healed – that the implant could be activated.
Q’ela’s parents – Nikitia Vasser, 33, and Quaneef Pierce, 25, feared their daughter would never hear the sounds the world had to offer. But when she did for the first time, it was an emotional moment for everyone.
It’s both heartwarming and heartbreaking to see the little girl playing with her toys as the implant is activated. She touches her head immediately, wondering what’s just happened. Of course, you can’t really explain the process to a 3-year-old, especially one not yet old enough to have a large sign language vocabulary.
The moment that brought a tear to viewers’ eyes was when her parents both softly said her name and she heard it for the first time.
No one knows what the little girl was thinking or feeling – and doctors say the moment was not painful in any way – but she was so overwhelmed by the sensation that she squealed and put her hand in her mouth, crying.
While many deaf people are happy to forgo cochlear implants and live life on their own terms, the majority of parents are now opting for this treatment for their children, wanting to give them a chance to hear. But some argue that we simply live in a world that isn’t kind to those with a disability and it’s us who define the condition as “abnormal.”
According to Howard A. Rosenblum, CEO at the National Association of the Deaf:
“This is primarily due to the philosophy of medical doctors that being deaf is a physical abnormality that should be cured,” he told INSIDER. “Many doctors who perform cochlear implant surgeries have been aggressively promoting cochlear implants as a cure.”
The truth is, a lot of training goes into getting used to the devices and they aren’t always a good option for everyone. Yet they’re touted as a medical miracle while deaf people who choose not to engage with the technology are questioned about their choices.
It always has been and always will be a very personal choice.
But so far it has been rewarding for Q’ela and her family and the moment her father caught on video is sure to stick with her throughout her life.
On the next try, after she’s calmed down, her dad says her name. Same reaction. She grabs her head, not understanding what’s going on.
Then she cocks her head to the side, now getting used to the sensation.
Kids are wildly resilient and curious, so the sensation is something to explore.
“Hey, you hear it? I know it. Yeah, you heard it?” her delighted parents can be heard saying.
She figures it all out quickly, smiling and reaching out to her mother.
It’s been just a month, but her family says Q’ela knows their voices now and is starting to recognize nature sounds.
It’s a whole new world for this little girl.
Be sure to scroll down below to see the sweet moment when Q’ela hears her parents’ voices for the first time.
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