As we near the final quarter of 2023 – Hearts for Hearing’s 20th Anniversary Celebration year – we continue to recognize Hero Patients who inspire us with their hard work, determination, and positivity.
Knowing the possibilities that exist – especially when a child born deaf is diagnosed with deafness or hearing loss before one month of age, fit with technology by three months, and receiving speech-language therapy soon thereafter – is motivation for our team of audiologists, listening and spoken language specialists, newborn hearing screeners, researchers, fundraisers – everyone at Hearts for Hearing – to continue doing whatever it takes to help the patients and families we serve.
15-month-old Carter is a happy, active, curious, fun-loving little boy who lives with his family in Enid, Oklahoma. He is the youngest child to parents Bryan and Kim, and he is baby brother to sisters Lakyn and Lainee. Their busy home is filled with all the typical toys, books, and activities associated with young families.
When Carter was born in early summer 2022, Mom and Dad say they were “blind-sided” when he was born with bilateral microtia. This is a condition defined as underdevelopment of the ear, which means the ear is either too small or not shaped as it should be, or both. Carter also had a cleft lip on the corner of his mouth. “The pregnancy and delivery had been perfectly normal,” says Mom, “we had no idea he would be born with these conditions until the moment he arrived.”
Mom admits she didn’t know anything about hearing loss or microtia when Carter was born. “At first, I was distraught,” she says, “and scared.” However, Carter’s neonatologist was very kind and reassuring, and he referred the family to Hearts for Hearing immediately. I remember him saying, “You will be in good hands,” says Mom.
We are so thankful. Following more tests at Hearts for Hearing, we were relieved to learn that Carter would be able to hear using technology. “I had no idea bone anchored hearing aids (BAHA) even existed or that they could be available to babies,” says Mom, “but we were so happy to know Carter could have the opportunity to learn to listen and talk,”
The family says the Hearts for Hearing team makes them feel at home during every visit and has worked hard from the very beginning to make our journey incredibly easy. When Carter’s BAHA was put in place, the family looked forward to his activation of sound appointment, and they were not disappointed. “Watching his eyes pop open after hearing our voices for the very first time is a moment I will never forget. It was very special.”
Carter’s speech-therapy sessions are going well, and he enjoys his time with his audiologist and listening and spoken language specialist. The family recognizes there are procedures ahead for them. “We plan to have permanent BAHAs placed when the time is right,” says Mom. “We are so thankful for technology and Carter’s ability to now hear.”
“Use the hearing devices available. Carter’s responsiveness is already incredible, and we could not imagine life without it. The team at Hearts for Hearing will help your family realize the benefits of that technology and work to ensure listening and talking is possible for your child.”
Hearts for Hearing was founded in 2003 with a mission of providing hearing technology and speech therapy services at no out-of-pocket costs to families with children who were born deaf. 20 years later, we are still teaching babies and children born deaf to listen and talk. Our services have expanded to include adult hearing care with offices in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Shawnee. Our team of professionals has grown from our original three people to 117 now. Hearts for Hearing continues to provide the first set of hearing technology and therapy to children at no out-of-pocket costs to families, and now includes Newborn Hearing Screen services, major research initiatives, Eyes Open Ears On programming, and its own 3D ear mold lab.