Deaf mother Dawn Keim heard her son’s voice for the first time due to a cochlear implant that allows her to hear.
There is nothing quite as sweet as hearing your baby for the first time; that first coo generally elicits a string of ridiculously unintelligible responses from the parent. When that coo turns into “Mama,” your heart just breaks with love at the sounds of your little one calling your name.
But what if the first time you heard your child’s voice, he was 8 years old? That’s what happened to Texas mom Dawn Keim. Fifteen years ago, Keim began losing her hearing due to a genetic condition. The 43-year-old mom is now completely deaf and had never heard the sound of her 8-year-old son’s voice. She typically follows conversations by lip-reading — a skill that is difficult in small groups and near impossible amongst large numbers of people. Due to the nature of Keim’s hearing dysfunction, hearing aids are not an option for her.
Then, in November of last year, the daytime talk show The Doctorsoffered Keim the opportunity to have her hearing restored with a breakthrough procedure. According to a press release for the show, Keim traveled from her home in El Paso, Texas to the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles, where the procedure was originally developed.
Keim received what is called a cochlear implant.
Now, after “more than a decade of silence,” Keim was able to hear her son’s voice for the first time. While to us it may seem like a joyous occasion, Keim was hesitant. In the episode — which will air this Thursday — Keim explains that she’s “heard” her son’s voice in her imaginings and wonders if his real voice will be different than what’s she’s imagined.
“I’m just really excited that she can finally hear,” Asher Keim, 8, said before revealing his voice to his mother.
The video shows Asher standing behind his mother, asking “Hey Mom, can you hear me?” A huge smile breaks across Keim’s face as she turns to tell her son that yes, she can hear him.
“It’s overwhelming and far better than I expected it to be,” Keim said in a later interview. “I was so fearful of what I was going to hear and what it was going to sound like.”
“I’m still overwhelmed,” she added.
This isn’t the first time a cochlear implant has helped someone hear the voice of a loved one for the first time. A video posted in October 2011 showed 2-year-old Cooper’s reaction to hearing his mother’s voice for the first time. In the video — which went viral on YouTube — Cooper gasps, smiling, and points to his ears as the implant is turned on and he hears his mother’s voice.
While many people in the deaf community reject the cochlear implant, opting instead to learn American Sign Language and be a part of “deaf culture,” others view the procedure as a tremendous breakthrough in closing the gap between the hearing and the deaf.
You can watch Dawn Keim hear her son’s voice for the first time below.
[Image via Shutterstock]