Donna Sue lived almost her entire childhood and adult life with single-sided deafness. She tried hearing aids but was at the point of giving up until a chance appointment with an audiologist for her husband, where she was introduced to the Cochlear™ Baha® System. She now loves to stream from her phone, sing in church choir and spend her time volunteering with children. Read her story here:


“Arriving at what some would call retirement age or beyond, I decided to not retire but just change directions instead. It’s a lot busier than I ever expected and I do miss some parts of the so-called working world, but thanks to my Baha 6 Max Sound Processor on one side of my head and my trusty rechargeable hearing aid on the other, the one thing I’m not missing is sound.

Donna Sue, who has a Baha System for SSD, taking a picture with her cell phone wearing a Cochlear t-shirt. Hearing loss began effecting my everyday life

I’ve had single-sided deafness (SSD) since I was about 3 months old due to a severe ear infection. My left side has age-related hearing loss. I spent about 50 years of my life turning the other cheek so I could hear what was being said on my right side – or, worse yet, apologizing because I couldn’t hear on my right side.

My hearing wasn’t too bad but suddenly, one day it was like someone turned off the sound on that side and what remained of my right-side hearing was gone. Thankfully, it wasn’t a brain tumor but ‘only’ sudden hearing loss as my remaining right side hearing gave out. I thought I could live with it until I started to step off a curb into the path of an oncoming car that I didn’t hear, but thanks to my very alert husband, I missed that experience.

Deciding it was time to get a hearing aid, I got the only common solution – a bi-cros hearing aid. The bi-cros transmitted sound from my deaf side to my hearing ear while blocking some sound from my hearing left ear. It drove me nuts so I finally gave up trying. Moving to the Tri-Cities area of Washington state brought new adventures and doctors, including a new audiologist that I have now been with for 10 years.

Donna Sue, who uses the Baha System for SSD showing a close up picture of her Baha 6 Max Sound Processor behind her ear. A professional recommendation for my hearing loss

While my husband was getting a routine hearing test, the audiologist and I started discussing my hearing situation and he suggested I look into the Cochlear Baha System. By then I was ready to get balanced hearing back. I saw the doctor’s colleague, a local ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor who turned out to be just the right surgeon for me.

At this point the Baha Attract System was a very new technology in Washington state and there had not yet been any surgery done for it in the state. My ENT was as excited about it, as was I, so we began the process of convincing my insurance company that it was necessary. With the help of the business office at my medical center in Richland, Washington, approval was received in a relatively short time with only one request for clarification about my hearing loss.

My surgery was scheduled in early 2014 and much to my doctor’s delight, turned out to be the very first Baha Attract surgery performed in Washington state. There’s a white board in the surgery area with notes of special occurrences and this surgery was up there for a very long time. There’s a bit of rivalry between the east and west side of the state, between the cities here and the Seattle area. We beat Seattle! 

The Cochlear Baha System

Activation of my Baha Sound Processor was a few weeks later. I healed perfectly with no complications of any kind. Placement of the magnet is just right, no interference with my glasses. A Cochlear representative was in the room for activation along with my doctors, my husband and one medical assistant. When my audiologist turned on my Baha 4 Attract Sound Processor, the first thing I recall hearing was the intake of breath from the assistant who was standing on my right side. That was so cool!

There were some adjustments made that day and I went back a few times until I felt we had done all we could. It was time for me to do some brain training. That’s what I tell everyone now. You need to be patient while your brain figures out what is going on. I used some computer programs and even our TV set to ‘play’ with the programs and learned directional hearing that I hadn’t had for so long.

At that time I chose the Phone Clip as my accessory and used it mostly for streaming1. It was so fun having my own personal implanted Bluetooth® headphone.

Donna Sue, who uses the Baha System for SSD, working a volunteer event at her local library and giving a command to her therapy dog. I just received my second upgrade to a Baha 6 Max Sound Processor, my best yet. It’s small, super powerful and programmed exactly to my needs. I love listening to and participating in choral music and stage shows. My Baha 6 Max Sound Processor helps me tune into the congregational singing at church where I’ve been music director for a number of years. My new sound processor really helps me hear different voices as well as musical instrument accompaniment. The iPhone® control through the Baha Smart App allows me to do hearing level adjustments privately.

Currently I volunteer with my certified therapy dog in a children’s reading program at the Richland Library. Kid’s voices can be a challenge to hear but my Baha Sound Processor is a big asset as well as a conversation piece when I tell people about better hear solutions. Although English is my first language, I also study and use American Sign Language (ASL) to enhance my hearing experience as well as help in my volunteer work.

Life is better for me when I can tune in and my Baha 6 Max is with me everywhere I go.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing single-sided deafness (SSD), the Baha System may be a solution for you! Read about this powerful solution here.

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  1. For a full list of smartphone and app compatible devices, visit:
  2. The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such marks by Cochlear is under license.
  3. iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Jesse Griego
Jesse Griego is the Social Media Specialist at Cochlear Americas. Jesse finds inspiration daily in the resiliency of our recipients and their hearing journeys. Jesse was born and raised in Colorado and in his free time enjoys being a wrestling and lacrosse coach, playing guitar and being with his hound dog.