'I can hear'
After getting a cochclear implant last year, a Saucier boy is enjoying life even more. He now tells his family ...
By NANCY BOSARGE
Blond, boisterous Brant Jones runs joyously to catch a tennis ball at his grandfather's house in Saucier. The 3-year-old boy really enjoys life now that he can hear, and his mother, Brandee, said he is much different since he had a cochlear implant in his right ear last year. His father, Terry, agreed.
Hearing aids only amplified the static for Brant, his mother said, so "we researched it and the best thing (was) to have the implant," at the time, only the second done at the Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson, though 25 have been done since. "He's doing better than we thought (he would). He talks in two-, three-word sentences and hears things we don't want him to hear."
Brant can remove the device that looks like a behind-the-ear hearing aid. A small wire comes from the speech processor to a flat, circular piece held in place on his head by a magnet implanted behind his ear during surgery. When he puts the piece back on his ear, he repeats to his father, "I can hear." Brant says that he likes the hearing device.
"If it comes off he puts it right back on," Terry said, "He really seems to understand that it makes him hear."
A cochlear implant bypasses the normal hearing route through the outer and middle ear and directly stimulates the nerve with electrical impulses. A device that has a magnet, a transmitter and receiver stimulator and long electrodes is implanted into the brain. The electrodes collect the impulses from the stimulator and send them to the nerve. On the outside of the ear a microphone picks up sound from the environment and processes it through a powerful minicomputer called a speech processor. Sound is converted to electrical signals, and coils relay the signals across the skin into the implanted receiver/stimulator.
Dr. Jeffery Carron, ENT, performed the implant surgery. He said that Brant's implant, like the others done at Batson, was very successful.
"We've done adults, teenagers and young children. The adults and teenagers, from their own accounts, are living much better. The young children are harder to tell - results vary. The children who go to the Magnolia (speech school) are doing the best," Carron said. "The FDA has now approved the surgery for children as young as 1 year old. I'm glad that Brant was chosen and I hope it brings awareness to that program so people know a service like this is offered here in Mississippi, that we are on the cutting edge."
Brant was born at Garden Park Medical Center in Gulfport in the summer of 2001, just the right time, it seems. That year Mississippi revised and passed a law that requires a hearing test for infants, so the Joneses learned about Brant's hearing loss the day after he was born.
"I would just like to thank the person who was instrumental in passing the legislation to have infants tested for hearing loss," his grandfather, Wayne Jones, said. "Before the surgery he just made grunts and noises. The other day he looked up from playing and said, 'Hi, Grandpa.' That's one of the highlights. You don't know how much that means."
Brandee and Terry lived in Saucier when Brant was diagnosed, but moved to Jackson to be closer to his medical care and learning facilities. Brandee's experiences with Magnolia Speech School even made her decide to return to college so she can teach deaf children.
"Last year at Magnolia, Brant had the best teacher. Seeing how she helped those kids, we'll never be able to thank her. I would like to give back to the community like Magnolia has helped us," Brandee said.
If Brant can go to public school the Joneses plan to move back to Saucier next year.
Brant recently was selected from Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson as the 2005 Children's Miracle Network Champion Child. Tina McKenzie, with public affairs for the hospital, says this is a very special honor.
"Brant represents all the children of Mississippi who have illnesses... he will represent Mississippi at a visit to the White House in March and will appear on the annual Children's Miracle Network telethon in Orlando (Fla.), which broadcasts for 10 hours the first weekend in June 2005 (check New Orleans and Mobile markets when the time comes).
"Brant cut the ribbon on the new surgical center at Batson on Oct. 29, and he will also attend fund-raisers and draw the name for a home giveaway in Jackson," McKenzie said.
- CMN Nancy Bosarge can be reached at 896-2303 or at email@example.com.
© 2004 The Sun Herald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.sunherald.com
Help Kids Hear is a site dedicated to helping parents of deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children. We are parents of hard of hearing kids and simply want to "give back" to the community. We welcome your comments, questions & suggestions. Please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.