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Deaf Since Birth, Woman Hears For The First Time: VIDEO

MilneJoanne Milne of Gateshead, England was born deaf due to Usher syndrome, a condition that affects 3-6% of deaf children. Though forty-year-old Milne was used to being deaf — "Being deaf was just who I was” — when her eyesight began to diminish being deaf became increasingly challenging. It was then that she sought the air of cochlear implant surgery as The LA Times reports:

"Designed for people who are deaf or have little hearing, cochlear implants were first developed in the 1970s. The device consists of a headset that is removable and a piece that is surgically implanted. A microphone-speech processor the size of a hearing aid is hooked over the ear to process sounds, which are then sent to a transmitter the size of a quarter that adheres to the head, just behind the ear, with a magnet.

"A receiver implanted inside the skull picks up signals and sends messages to electrodes inserted inside the inner ear -- stand-ins for the tiny hair cells that, in the majority of deaf people, are damaged. The message moves on to the brain.”

Watch the incredible video Milne’s friend recorded of the implants being tested and Milne hearing for the first time ever, AFTER THE JUMP…

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  1. Your figure for the percentage of children affected by the syndrome is incorrect. It causes 3-6% of all deafness.

    Posted by: David | Mar 28, 2014 6:05:26 PM

  2. This is really moving. Also it almost feels like this special moment might be meant to be private, it's so intimate. Really happy for her! I hope she didn't mind this being broadcast.

    Posted by: Ulu | Mar 28, 2014 6:10:54 PM

  3. Wow, thank you. I really needed that after a crappy day. So happy for her.

    Posted by: Ian | Mar 28, 2014 6:20:27 PM

  4. I can't with this, just teary eyed! Technology is amazing and so is the human body. This is so moving!

    Posted by: cdubois | Mar 28, 2014 6:40:16 PM

  5. Imagine how much better these implants are now since the '70s. The good that we do for each other like this is proof that God is in us and Jo has experienced (and reacted as we would expect) God coming into her consciousness through hearing. God bless her and her doctors and helpers. Now I will try to get hold of myself and stop crying (sympathetic experience of God) I have sight in only my left eye and I know that if sight were restored to my right eye, I would react very similarly.

    Posted by: BrokebackBob | Mar 28, 2014 6:44:35 PM

  6. @brokebackbob there's no credible evidence for anything supernatural, much less a deity of any kind. our evolution as social animals has made helping each other/altruism a behavior that is an advantage for the survival of our species. it's a natural phenomenon. there's no need for any supernatural explanation.

    Posted by: ascanius1 | Mar 28, 2014 7:05:02 PM

  7. Exactly what Ascanius said. Thank the power of scientific research for any and all medical advances.

    Posted by: Sergio | Mar 28, 2014 7:07:49 PM

  8. I have a question perhaps someone here can answer. If she has been deaf since birth, how is it she understands the first words she hears? Wouldn't she have to learn the language? Just sayin' (askin').

    Posted by: Len | Mar 28, 2014 7:11:21 PM

  9. Good God will someone please *hug* that woman?!? That hand on the back at 02:30 was just pathetic. I can see there are wires to be careful of - someone should have told her to have someone in the room, anyone, who wasn't painfully repressed and emotionally illiterate. That "stiff upper lip" thing is in this case close to inhuman. I could go on, but I'll end by saying how wonderful for Ms. Milne. I hope she continues to experience undreamed of aural joy. And I hope that someone hugs her.

    Posted by: PlaidCat | Mar 28, 2014 7:20:02 PM

  10. I'm wondering how she understands English too, but I suspect she wasn't completely deaf, but could hear very low frequencies.

    Hair cells are very fragile and have the highest metabolism rate of any cells in the body.

    Posted by: anon | Mar 28, 2014 7:23:26 PM

  11. There are no gods, of course, and this is an excellent example of why science beats superstition every time.

    Very happy for her and so glad that this video was shared with the world.

    And, yes, I know they're in the middle of an important test, but how could nobody in that room hug her???

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Mar 28, 2014 8:10:15 PM

  12. If she thought that woman had a high voice,, just think how high the beegees would have sounded if she had.gotten this done in the 70s!! Her head would have exploded like a wine glass.

    Posted by: steve talbert | Mar 28, 2014 8:36:12 PM

  13. @ascanius1, @sergio: You two are perfect for each other, both irretrievably self-centered.

    Posted by: BrokebackBob | Mar 28, 2014 8:38:48 PM

  14. Most deaf people who don't suffer from other physical or cognitive issues and who have read lips their entire lives understand phonetics and can speak to varying degrees. So they can at least understand the days of the week and months of the year, as well as basic conversation. And as someone noted, she might have had limited hearing capacity and certainly could have felt vibrations. She was also prepped for the outcomes of the surgery and, more important, has spent her life imagining what it's like to hear---likely in many different ways.

    Anyway, a beautiful clip despite the shocking lack of affection and weak/distracting camera work! (I wanted all the focus to be on her...)

    Posted by: Paul R | Mar 28, 2014 8:51:15 PM

  15. oh, she has to go dancing.
    very, very soon!

    Posted by: woody | Mar 28, 2014 8:58:08 PM

  16. I suspect lipreading is part of her ability to understand what people were saying. I also agree with Ulu. That was a little intimate. A little too intimate for me. I hope the recorder got her permission to post that video.

    Posted by: lessthan | Mar 28, 2014 9:16:47 PM

  17. Seeing this makes me realize what I have taken for granted all my life. Not hearing, and then having this whole new sense--mind-blowing! Her tears were obviously of joy, but also, I imagine, for what she missed out on all those years.

    It makes me give thanks for my health.

    Posted by: kdknyc | Mar 28, 2014 9:27:27 PM

  18. You are Gay. Pharmacitical companies offer you a pill to become straight. After all, you are broken, and being Gay is a condition which must be fixed. How does that make you feel?

    Bad? Well, how do you think it makes Deaf people feel when their worth is judged on whether or not they can hear? Hearing people love these videos, but they make many Deaf people feel like they are only valued if they can erase their nature, and use robotics to make them pass as something they are not.

    It sickens me when LGBT folks promote this eugenics of the Deaf community - after all, many straight people would want to 'correct' us.

    Posted by: DannyMI | Mar 28, 2014 11:58:06 PM

  19. DANNYMI - That is a false analogy. I understand and respect the deaf community's members wanting to maintain the sense that they are a group of individuals and that they struggle every day, but hearing is an incredibly valuable and important sense. Certainly, if one of my limbs was chopped off, life would be harder, I would cope of course but if somebody gave me the chance to regain it or allowed me the use of a high-tech prosthetic to improve my quality of life, you bet I would take it. You live your life the way that you want, others make their own choices. I and many people are sensitive to the deaf community's needs and right to be respected, but don't bag on somebody who makes their own choices in life. Nearly all of the comments here and on the youtube page are recognizing that this is a beautiful moment, not that she gained worth as a person because now she can hear. People who regain their hearing are still the same people. Just as somebody who comes out as gay is still the same person.

    Posted by: Cake | Mar 29, 2014 12:38:37 AM

  20. There's also the fact that a major driver of her decision to undergo this surgery was that she's going blind.

    In any case, precious few people with hearing sit around "judging" the deaf for their inability to hear. And yes, given the choice, most people would prefer not to have a chronic condition that affects nearly every aspect of their lives.

    Posted by: Paul R | Mar 29, 2014 1:17:22 AM

  21. Unfortunately, there are many in the deaf community are hideously bigoted against people who choose a cochlear implant. No matter the nature of a group (based on ability, sexuality, nationality etc), we humans never miss a chance to hate others.

    Posted by: Traje | Mar 29, 2014 4:15:55 AM

  22. @Brokebackbob @ASCANIUS1,

    What some people call God is what others call love and compassion. We're all reacting to the same thing. It's about people creating moments like this for other people.

    This is an intimate moment, and we could be violating someone's privacy -- but how much more authentic is this video than all the drivel we are inundated with? Videos like this remind us that we have the capacity to be really good to one another, despite the sensationalism and narcissism of the digital era.

    Posted by: jon b | Mar 30, 2014 10:40:35 AM

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