Being able to hear is something most of us take for granted and for those living with profound hearing loss, life can be particularly tough at times.
But one nine-month-old baby was given the gift of hearing just in time for Christmas this year after he was born deaf, thanks to cochlear implant surgery.
Everett Colley underwent the surgery with Cochlear Americas and had the exterior part fitted on December 20, which allowed him to hear his parents, Ashley and Zachary Colley, for the first time.
A sweet video filmed on the day Everett had his implants fitted showed him beaming with joy as he nuzzled his face into his mum’s chest.
Ashley, from Yorktown, Virginia, USA said: “I think it’s mainly my husband’s voice that he seems to hear more than mine, but for him to hear that and go to me for comfort it’s beautiful.
“I’m sure most people’s reactions when they first find out that their baby is deaf are like ours, it’s a horrible thing.
“But it’s not, it’s really beautiful, he has a whole outlook of life that we don’t.”
Concerns were first raised about Everett’s hearing after he was born in February, as he failed his newborn hearing test.
But Ashley, 29, wasn’t worried at the time because her other sons – Abel, seven, Greyson, five, and Joel, three – had also failed it as babies due to fluid build-up in their ears.
She explained: “I went back a month later and they did the same test as the newborn and she was like ‘it’s possible there could still be fluid’, and that point I was questioning it.
“Then I went back for an auditory brain response test and that’s when she pulled her chair up and she said he has profound hearing loss.
“That’s all I remember, and everything else was a blur, I felt I was kind of looking through her.
“It doesn’t run in the family and it’s hard not to think of all the bad things at first, so I was very much in shock.”
Ashley and her husband Zachary, 30, were then told Everett would qualify for cochlear implant surgery, where a small electronic device is placed under the skin behind the ear and attached to an external microphone.
The device has wires that are attached to the cochlear and converts sound picked up by the microphone into electrical impulses which are sent directly to the brain.
And after initially undergoing a four-hour surgery at the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters on December 6 to have devices fitted to both his ears, Everett had the external portions fitted two weeks later – and was able to hear his parents’ voices for the first time.
Ashley said: “After the surgery my husband was like ‘Ashley have you even put him down?’
“Instead of thinking about hearing loss as a bad thing, we think of it as a blessing.
“Hearing is something we take for granted, but try not to hark on the bad things, it’s a beautiful life that they live.”