After faulty equipment did not allow Heather S.’ daughter, Hailey, to get a newborn hearing screening, Heather followed her gut, knowing that something with Hailey’s hearing was different. When she found out Hailey was deaf, The Smith’s were relieved to learn about cochlear implants and move forward so Hailey could hear. Fast forward to today, Hailey, is a superstar in sports with cochlear implants and has a great future ahead of her:

Hailey as a young child before loving playing sports with cochlear implants“Hailey was born Aug. 29, 2001. She was the most beautiful red headed wonder we had ever seen. Within a few weeks of her arrival, I could tell she was different from her older brother; she would cry nonstop unless she could see my face. I would talk to her somewhere in the house while she was in her swing or crib, and she again would just keep crying until someone came in the room where she was.

At 4 months old, my husband and I we visited some friends and talked about our concerns. They encouraged us to call the hospital where Hailey was born, knowing that she should have had a newborn hearing test. I contacted our hospital in Austin to request these records and within a few hours, we got a call from the chief executive officer (CEO) explaining their equipment had been deemed faulty and a test was not done when Hailey was in the hospital.

Hailey as a kid before playing sports with cochlear implants

We went into the same hospital the next day for a test. Hailey did not respond at all to any of the noises administered through the newborn screening. The employee explained what the result might be and immediately gave me a card for a local audiologist and said I need to get Hailey into her office as quickly as possible for an auditory brainstem response (ABR).  At this point, we were confused, sad and felt out of control.

Within a week, we were in the audiologist’s office doing an ABR, which came back with no hearing activity again. We felt crushed and perplexed by this information. She gave us a handful of packets about the Texas School for the Deaf, what it is like to have a deaf child and then a business card for an auditory verbal therapist (AVT) in Dallas. I contacted the AVT that evening and spoke on the phone with her for several hours. She was encouraging to me, and she told me there were several solutions, that Hailey could have the potential for hearing and she could be a normal child in a regular classroom with cochlear implant surgery and a lot of extensive therapy.

Hope for Hailey’s hearing

Hailey playing soccer and other sports with cochlear implantsWe contacted the doctor’s office the next day and got an appointment to see him within a few weeks. We wanted to find out what he would suggest as the best alternative for Hailey. They did another ABR and once again, there was hearing activity. As disappointed as we were, the doctor had great news for us. If there was ever a perfect case for cochlear implants (especially with Hailey being over 1 year old), Hailey was it!

Hailey could only have one ear could be done at this time, so Hailey had her second implant surgery at the age of 2 1/2 years old. Hailey was not happy with the sound at first and cried for six months straight, throwing the implants off continuously, but we persevered.

School opportunities and moving on up!

Hailey began school at 3 years of age in the Round Rock School District at an elementary specifically for children with hearing loss. We knew right away that she was going to be different, learning things so quickly and moving through school as though she had no ceiling.

Hailey, who plays sports, with cochlear implantsHailey has always been in a regular classroom, always learned the same information the other students have, excelled in AP classes and currently has a 4.1 GPA in her high school. Hailey has also always loved music and sports. She is very athletic and has always risen to the top of her teams in any sport that she plays.

Hailey’s love right now is basketball. She plays on a very competitive high school team, The Georgetown Lady Eagles, and is associated with a college recruiting company to help her find the right spot for her and her desire to play college basketball and attend veterinary school.”

Is your child newly diagnosed with hearing loss? Learn more at IWantYouToHear.com about cochlear implants to help provide them with an opportunity to excel in school and sports like Hailey.

Cara Lippitt
Cara Lippitt is the Senior Manager, Social Media Strategy at Cochlear Americas. Cara is inspired by the stories of the recipients that she is able to tell and the incredible journeys they have taken. Cara was born and raised in Colorado and adores the mountains, snow and the world of musical theatre.