Cochlear implants help three generations of the same family to hear again

Hearing is something most of us take for granted, but when it fails, it has a huge impact on lives. 67-year-old Leslie French from Western Australia can speak from first-hand experience on this topic as he, his daughter Jody Maitland, 39, and his grandson Hayden Maitland, 10, have all suffered from hearing loss, but have been able to have their hearing restored with Cochlear™ Implants over the past nine years.

Leslie lived with significant hearing loss in one ear, and total deafness in the other, for many years. Although he used hearing aids, he believed the loud noises that surrounded him daily as a building industry worker greatly contributed to his hearing loss.

“Hearing aids just made things louder. I couldn’t understand what people were saying when receiving on the job training or in meetings,” Leslie says. “I know it impacted my career and I could have progressed further if I had been able to understand what people were saying”.

After receiving his first Cochlear Implant at the Ear Science Institute Australia’s (ESIA) Hearing Implant Centre, Leslie realised he could hear sounds he had never been able to hear before, like birds chirping in the distance, the clock ticking and car horns honking.

Within two years, he booked in for a second implant and his daughter Jody Maitland had her first implant surgery at the same time. Both find the clarity of sound the biggest improvement to their life, but said there was one downside – the noise of cutlery scraping!

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A family affair

Jody was diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of eight, after her mother Kathleen persisted in seeking second opinions, knowing that something was wrong. However, it was not until the age of 32 that she decided to have two Cochlear Implants to enable her to care better for her two young children.

With a family history of hearing loss, Jody ensured her son Hayden had continual hearing tests. This regular testing meant that his hearing loss was quickly identified while he was still a toddler, and he was fitted with his first hearing aid at the age of four. Hayden’s hearing loss continued to deteriorate until it became severe to profound in his right ear.  In December 2014, Hayden became the third generation of his family to receive a Cochlear Implant.

Jody believes the impact of the years she lost to almost silence in the classroom was significant. “If I was diagnosed earlier, I believe I would have performed better in school and gone on to further studies and to university,” she says. “Hayden is at such a crucial point in his schooling, soon he’ll be going to high school so we’ve gone through the ESIA Hearing Implant Centre to get the best possible care and hearing outcomes for him so he can excel in his studies”.

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Professor Marcus Atlas

The otolaryngologist performing the surgery was also of key importance to the family. Professor Marcus Atlas of the ESIA Hearing Implant Centre performed Mr French’s cochlear implant surgery, so when it came time for Mrs Maitland to receive implants, she also chose him. “It was a natural choice to go back to him for Hayden’s surgery,” she said.

Do you have hearing loss? How has it affected your life? Is it hereditary? Tell us your story below.