Dallas Ear Institute
7777 Forest Lane, Suite A-103, Dallas, TX 75230 | Phone: (972) 566-7600 | Fax: (972) 566-6560 | www.dallasear.com

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Cochlear Implant Patient Testimonials

Cochlear Implants / Cochlear Implant Devices / Meet Our Cochlear Implant Team / Ear Education / Patient Testimonials / Facts & Myths About Deafness

Lesley Miller

My name is Lesley Miller and I am sixteen years old. My moderate-severe hearing loss was diagnosed when I was three, and from then on I wore hearing aids, allowing me to learn to listen and speak. We never determined the cause of my deafness, but when I was twelve my hearing declined to the point that I became frustrated trying to communicate with the limited benefit my hearing aids were giving me. After much deliberation, I chose to get a cochlear implant. I was cautiously optimistic that it would make listening less exhausting; I couldn’t have foreseen just how great the benefits would be.

I was able to notice a difference almost immediately, and could suddenly hear a myriad of sounds that I’d never heard before. Just a few months after getting my cochlear implant turned on, I began taking French in school. Four years later, I was ranked one of the top ten scores in the nation on the National French Exam (a test with a large listening portion) and I am also an officer for my high school’s French Honor Society. After having my first implant for a couple of years, I knew that I wanted to hear in surround sound, and received a second implant. It’s been wonderful to hear so much better in noisy situations, and has also allowed me to appreciate music even more.

I will forever be grateful to Dr. Peters, Leslie Lianos, Linda Daniel and the rest of my cochlear implant team. The work that the Dallas Hearing Foundation has done is incredible, and there are truly few gifts as precious as the gift of sound!

Kelley Keeton

I am Kelley Keeton, and my hearing loss journey began very suddenly after contracting
bacterial meningitis at the age of 37. I lost all the hearing in my right ear and had minimal residual hearing in my left ear. It was very scary to be "newly" deaf and not know what to expect or how to handle it.

My means of communicating at first was by way of a white board and a dry erase marker. I did
eventually get very good at lip reading; and I received a hearing aid for my left ear. The hearing aid amplified the sounds, but it in no way made it possible for me to carry on a "normal" conversation.

I have always had the frame of mind to not give up; if GOD brought me to it, HE will certainly
bring me through it. Therefore, I decided to return to school, (even before my C.I., while I still had my hearing aid); at this point however, I required the use of C.A.R.T., to be able to nderstand what was going on in class.

GOD placed an angel in my life by the name of Esther Kelly. She is the one who referred or
suggested that I look into getting a cochlear implant; and she gave me Dr. Robert Peters name. Due to the damage done to my right ear by the meningitis, an implant on that side was not successful, BUT GOD is awesome and in December of 2008 I received an implant on the left side and WOW it was a tremendous success.

I returned once again to nursing school; a dream I have had of achieving FOREVER. I
graduated salutatorian of my class in July of 2010. The entire time I was in nursing school, I did not have to use C.A.R.T. or an FM system; that is how successful my C.I. has been for me. It is so exciting to be able to say "I AM A NURSE!!"

GOD has blessed each and every step of this journey, from the very first day up until now, and I
know HE will continue to do so in the future. I am SOOO thankful to GOD, Dr. Peters, and his entire staff, Esther Kelly, the list could go on and on. Without my Cochlear Implant, I would not be where I am today; and I know now more than ever that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD!!

T. J. Smelko

God gave me a chance to enter the hearing world without any of the obstacles that I faced when I wore hearing aids my whole life, and I thank Him for His gifts He has given me. Before I was implanted with the Nucleus 5 cochlear implant, I suffered several bouts of depression, because I felt left out of conversations and I didn't want to feel ashamed and ask others to repeat what was being said. Speech was not clear enough with hearing aids. Now with the cochlear implant, I am hearing new sounds that I never heard before. I feel like the barrier between the deaf and hearing world has been removed. My family has noticed dramatic improvement in my speech clarity. With my positive attitude and determination to work through the process, I feel like I am already an inspiration for others who are seeking help for their hearing loss. I am an advocate at the Dallas Hearing Foundation Cochlear Implant Support Group, in the Cochlear Community, and Hearing Journey at A.B. I also have my own website where I post videos and weekly updates on my progress. I am so grateful for Dr. Peters, the Dallas Hearing Foundation, my family, friends, and God for giving me the chance
to be on this adventure to better hearing! I am so happy!

Dennis Grillo

I first noticed that I was losing my hearing in late 2003 / early 2004, which was around the time I completed my first tour in Iraq.  As a civilian worker  for the Department of Defense, I made several tours there, and each time I went, my hearing suffered. At first it was merely bothersome, but it quickly progressed to the point that I needed hearing aids to function. 

I retired in the summer of 2008, and my wife and I expected to be able to enjoy our retirement traveling, entertaining, and enjoying each other’s company. Unfortunately, in April 2010, in the span of a month, I suddenly lost most of my hearing. I could barely understand my wife, and phone conversations were impossible. Virtually overnight, my world changed, and it was not for the better. 

Fortunately, I was referred to Dr. Peters at Dallas Ear Institute and the Dallas Hearing Foundation, who recommended a cochlear implant.  The cochlear implant was activated in mid-August. At first, while I could hear sounds, conversation was difficult. However; within two days, I noticed a vast improvement in my understanding. Within a week, I was conversing with my wife, family and friends. In fact, in many ways my hearing is better now than when I first started wearing hearing aids. I can watch many television shows without closed captions, and I can even enjoy music. I was literally stunned the first time a TV theme song came on, and I could follow the music and words.  I can concentrate on driving and listen to talk radio. Frankly, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I lost my hearing for only a short period, and I had strong support from my wife and family. Losing my hearing had a profound impact on not only my life, but also on my wife's. Now our lifestyle is back to normal and we are doing the things we always enjoyed, and my hearing continues to improve. My wife and I are extremely grateful to Dr. Peters and his staff for restoring my hearing.

Blaine Moore

I was born on August 31, 1997. My mom said that was one of the best days of her life. When I was born, I was very sick. I was three days old, and my parents came to visit me in the hospital. My mom said all of the babies in the intensive care unit had a sticker on their crib that said, "I CAN HEAR." I did not have one of those stickers.

I am deaf. My dad is also deaf. I think if I have children they will also be deaf. Sometimes I get sad that I was born not able to hear. But the really good thing is that Dr. B. Robert Peters did cochlear implant surgery on me and my dad on the same day! So now, my dad and I, both deaf, can talk and hear each other!

I had to go to auditory-verbal therapy for 7 years to learn to hear and speak. Now I can talk, and I am a really good speller and reader. I am not very good at math, but I don’t think being deaf has anything to do with me being bad with numbers. Next year the Dallas Hearing Foundation is sending me to an awesome school - Dallas Academy. I am also a Boy Scout. I just got my Arrow of Light, and I really want to get the Eagle Scout.

If I did not have my cochlear implant, I would have to talk with my fingers, and only a very few people would be able to understand me. Now everyone knows what I am saying. I am so happy that Dr. Peters and his staff helped me and my dad to hear and speak!

Dean Blanton

In May 2007, our son Dean Blanton was given the gift of hearing with the help of the Dallas Hearing Foundation. For almost two years, Dean was profoundly deaf. He never heard the bark of his dog, the music in his favorite cartoon, or the voice of Mom and Dad. At twelve months, we were finally given a complete diagnosis that our son was hearing impaired.

We had been preparing ourselves for that day, and had already made the decision to give Dean a cochlear implant. Unfortunately, we did not qualify for any type of medical insurance. For several months after the diagnosis, we did a lot of research trying to find a way to get care for our son. In October of 2006, we found the Dallas Hearing Foundation.

Approximately seven months later, Dean received a cochlear implant. Now, six months post operation, Dean is doing fantastic! He understands instruction, does light imitations, and turns when he hears his name. Our life at home has changed dramatically for the better. Dean communicates very well, because he can actually listen and understand what is going on in his environment. The best thing about all of this is that Dean loves hearing! If his processor coil falls off, he puts it back on himself! We have a lot of work ahead of us, but Dean is progressing every day. Thank you to the Dallas Hearing Foundation for everything!

Dakota Clark

Dakota failed her hearing test on the day she was born. After many tests, it was determined that she had a profound hearing loss in both ears. She was fitted with hearing aids before she was two. They did help with her hearing, but after more testing, it was determined that her hearing loss was a progressive loss and would go up and down without warning. It would eventually bottom out, but there was no way to determine when that would happen. Dakota became frustrated when these fluctuations would happen because she wasn’t old enough to communicate what was going on with her hearing.

We started going to Dr. B. Robert Peters of the Dallas Ear Institute and continued to routinely test Dakota’s hearing so we would know when her hearing was up or down. In 2007, the hearing in her left ear bottomed out. We knew it was time to take the next step and give her a cochlear implant. The cochlear implant has given her hearing in her left ear that she never had with any hearing aid since she was born. She is now a more peaceful child, and her speech has improved dramatically. She has been enrolled in the Plano Regional Day School Program for the Deaf, which was awarded the AG Bell Program of the Year for 2007. Since she has been implanted, she has been able to have less and less assistance.

As far as Dakota is concerned, Dr. Peters is her hero! The cochlear implant is the best thing we ever could have done for her.

Matthew Grover

After being diagnosed with profound bilateral hearing loss, Matthew received his cochlear implant at 20 months old.  What amazing technology and an incredible blessing for our family!  Now 3, Matthew has made significant progress in learning to listen and speak.  Prior to his implant, Matthew spoke only using single words.  He now puts multiple word sentences together and enjoys interacting with people.  He enjoys school and loves doing artwork.  He reads stories with Mom and Dad and talks on the phone with his grandparents.  We expect that Matthew will continue to do better and better using his cochlear implant. 

Jillian Liebert

Jillian received her gift of hearing through the technology of bilateral cochlear implants at the age of 14 months.  At 2 ½, she began speaking jargon with her 2 year old neighbor and her classmates.  From that point on, Jillian's progress living in the world of sound has been nothing short of amazing.  She began individual speech therapy immediately after the surgery and reaped the benefits of reverse-mainstream educational activities at Pearson Elementary when she reached four years old.   Jillian then entered the mainstream educational system side-by-side with her friends, neighbors, and the rest of the “normal" kids in Kindergarten.  

Now at the age of six, Jillian is already looking forward to first grade beginning next year.  Her bilateral implants have allowed her such luxuries as sound localization, a decreased dependence on lip-reading as compared to her unilateral peers, and an ever-growing vocabulary with which to express herself. She has even expressed an interest in learning to play the piano and singing. This continues to be a gift too precious to explain in words. We continue to cherish every word, sentence, cry, and laugh she makes.  This truly has been an everlasting blessing from God! The Dallas Hearing Foundation provides these same blessings to many other children just like Jillian.

Piper Owens-Cooksey

Piper was born on May 23, 2008. She was a beautiful 5lb. 6oz ANGEL! It was a very bittersweet day. She was finally here, but struggling to survive. She had a cleft in her soft palate, causing her difficulty in feeding and maintaining her oxygen levels. The doctors transferred her to the NICU and began running tests. They decided that ambilical cord failure, combined with a syndrome was probably the culprit. It was the most devastating experience our lives.

To date, Piper has been diagnosed with profound bilateral hearing loss, Pierre Robin Sequence, respiratory distress syndrome, cortical vision impairment, and Cerebral Palsy. She has no hearing and damaged sight. This has created a huge delay in her physical and mental development. We heard of the leaps and bounds they are making in improving hearing in children using cochlear implants, and we decided that would be the direction we would take. A specialist referred us to Dr. Robert Peters and assured us that his team is the very best. The help and direction we received began as early as our first visit. The auditory-verbal therapist, Linda Daniel noticed right way that Piper was displaying signs of vestibular issues and referred us to an occupational therapist that specializes in children with balance problems and varied muscle tone. Our insurance didn’t cover the specialist, but the Dallas Hearing Foundation stepped in and covers the cost of this treatment Piper so desperately needs. She began to improve right away - rolling over, sitting, holding herself up and looking around with purpose. It was all very new and exciting!

Piper received her cochlear implant, and is now smiling at us and laughing when we do. Her father and I still get teary-eyed when we watch her look around in wonderment and smile when she hears our voices. Her therapists are astonished by the almost immediate change in her and her attitude towards the new world that has been opened up to her. She has been given the gift of a new beginning and a chance to lead a healthy life. To be able to hear us tell her we love her, to run and play because her balance is improving, and especially to be safe. Imagine your child not being able to hear a security alarm, smoke detector, or storm siren. Piper now has the options to do so many new things that were not previously available to her, and we cannot imagine other children not being given the same opportunity.

By supporting the Dallas Hearing Foundation, you can change lives and quite possibly save them!

Besa Shala

I was born in war-torn Kosovo in 1996. When I was eight months old, my parents realized I could not hear. When I was two, a humanitarian organization called Operation Angel discovered our family and saw that we desperately needed help. They found Dr. Bob Peters on the internet and he agreed to help me hear if we could get to Dallas. My parents could not believe this could even be possible. The life we knew in our homeland was destroyed. Through struggles you cannot imagine, God worked through many good people and brought us to Dallas. We arrived with nothing but the clothes on our backs. through the Dallas Hearing Foundation, Dr. Peters gave me the unbelievable gift of hearing with cochlear implants. My generous people helped my family start a new life here.

The Dallas Hearing Foundation made my family's dream come true. If it weren't for Dr. Peters and the Dallas Hearing Foundation, I would not have been able to go to mainstream school, and I would not be able to communicate with my teachers and friends. Because of the Dallas Hearing Foundation, I can talk to anybody I want to, I can hear people laugh and I can listen to music. For this I will always be thankful!

Ryan Dake

Ryan was a micro-preemie, born at 26 weeks, weighing only 1 lb., 6.2 oz. Even though he had a difficult NICU journey, he passed the hearing test right before he was discharged at four months old. In the months that followed, his parents, Edward and Cindy, began to realize he was not responding to sound like other babies do. At age one, he was diagnosed with profound deafness, likely as a result of the side effects of high doses of life-saving medications in NICU. He was fitted with analog hearing aids and began speech therapy at 18 months old. Additional listening devices and better hearing aids helped some, and he developed a large sign language vocabulary and a moderate-sized spoken vocabulary. "But despite years of therapy and the best hearing aids we could buy," his mother said, "it was painfully obvious that it just wasn't enough. He would always need an interpreter. We yearned to give him independence so he could embrace life without an interpreter at the doctor, a conference meeting, or at the bank."

At age 5, Ryan got his first Advanced Bionics cochlear implant and began auditory-verbal therapy with Linda Daniel and staff. "Within six months, he made so much progress in speech and listening that it was like having a different child," his father remembers. "He was discovering new sounds all the time--and loving it! His spoken language soared." Less than a year later, his parents decided he could get the other ear implanted.

"This time, the adjustment was almost instantaneous," his mother said. "He was understanding words less than 24 hours after activation of the second implant. Within three months of being bilateral, he made the choice to stop using the interpreter in his kindergarten class. He could hear and understand the teacher now! And I'm probably the only mom in our school who rejoiced when her child came home with 'Ryan talks too much in class' written on his daily report! I was actually thrilled to have that problem." Ryan also began asking to listen to music after he went bilateral and enjoys what he calls "jazzy music." Now 11, Ryan is a happy, very talkative boy who reads on grade-level and loves to draw.

"Cochlear implants have given Ryan what we hoped - the potential for independence as an adult," his mother said. "But until then, my favorite benefit of cochlear implants is how we can now whisper to Ryan in the dark at bedtime - no signing, no lights or lip-reading needed. He can hear every word."

Payton Lange

Payton Lange was born on June 22nd, 2004 and did not pass his newborn hearing screening. After being confirmed as profoundly deaf by the staff at Dr. Peter’s office,
he began wearing hearing aids and started auditory-verbal therapy. He was supposed to be implanted shortly after his first birthday, but the insurance would not approve the surgery. After a long battle with the insurance company, both ears were finally approved for implantation. Payton received his surgery on October 10, 2005. He became the proud owner of two Cochlear Nucleus Freedom devices. They were “turned on” on October 31st (Halloween). What a treat!

When Payton turned 3 years old he started an all-day oral preschool program. He loves school. He has a hunger for learning and the drive to accomplish anything put before him. When he gets home from school he likes to pretend to be the teacher for his 3 younger siblings. Often we will hear him teaching them songs and lessons or providing speech therapy. He is now in Kindergarten, mainstreamed part of the day. His speech and language have improved by leaps and bounds over the last 4 years and we are extremely proud of how well he is doing. Payton is meeting and exceeding all the goals that teachers and we as his parents put before him.

In his free time Payton is involved in Karate. He loves it and is able to keep up with the class, learning new lessons every week. One of Payton’s other favorite things to do is play games on the Nintendo Wii. He likes to play Mario Kart, Lego Batman, Guitar Hero, and Wii Music. He definitely has an appreciation and love for music.

We wanted our son to have a chance to communicate, learn and socialize just like everyone else; a chance to lead an independent life and be anything he wants to be. Everything we wanted for our son is coming to be, he is very independent, happy and excited about life. When I asked him what he wants to be when he grows up he said, “a Superhero, because I want to help people.” I believe he will be a “Superhero” of some sort helping people just as he experienced people helping him, especially the Dallas Hearing Foundation.

Our family wishes to extend our sincere thanks to the Dallas Hearing Foundation for all of the talent, support and guidance they bestowed upon us. They have been there from the beginning through all of our family struggles with a constant message of hope. We were treated with care, compassion, love, and understanding throughout our journey. In helping Payton, they forever changed his life and also the lives of so many around him. It brings tears to my eyes to think of The Dallas Hearing Foundation and the good they do for so many. There is always a success story, because these kids have been given a gift and told they can do anything. The future is bright for the Dallas Hearing Foundation because of the spark it has lit in so many people.

Pam Butler

Pam is a bright, blue eyed 10 year-old who was diagnosed with profound deafness after contracting meningitis as an infant. She was adopted at age 3 and was very inquisitive but socially withdrawn. With no language skills, she immediately received her first cochlear implant and was immersed in a mainstream environment with the goal of helping her to function in a hearing world.

One day as she was running down the driveway toward the street, I looked out my kitchen window and called her name. She quickly stopped in her tracks and turned around. It was at that time that I truly realized the impact the cochlear implant was having on her life. Pam slowly made progress in her language development and received her second implant at age 6. There were many along the way who saw Pam's potential and encouraged us in our journey, but it was audiologist Linda Daniel who really moved her language forward.

We are lucky to have Pam in our lives, and we will be forever grateful to the professionals at Dr. Peters' office and the Dallas Hearing Foundation who were able to see daylight when others saw darkness. She continues to be mainstreamed, recently achieving the 3rd grade A/B honor roll. Pam is a blessing and inspiration for us all.

Brenda Shepherd

I am Brenda Shepherd and my hearing loss journey is rather short compared to others. I began losing my hearing around 2002, with tinnitus, ringing in the ears. My hearing loss increased substantially over the next two years. I went from being an outgoing confident woman to a shut-in. I was fitted with two different types of hearing aids over the next few years, and although I did get some help with amplification, clarity of speech was not normal enough to carry on a conversation. Interestingly, my otolaryngologist referred me to Dr. Peters, if my hearing continued to get worse. I had no idea the miracle of hearing I could experience with a Cochlear Implant.

I received my Cochlear Implant in June 2009, and only 9 weeks after my surgery, I tested to be hearing at a normal level with my Cochlear Implant!

Once again I am hearing our dog panting, the cat purring, water running, and I am UNDERSTANDING WORDS that I have not understood in several years. I am so grateful for my Cochlear Implant and the help I have received getting my hearing back on track.

With God all things are possible, and He has brought me through this successfully using Dr. Peters and the Cochlear Implant! Philippians 3:13b-14 says, ‘Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’

At my first appointment with Dr. Peters, I read a brochure in his lobby about the Dallas Hearing Foundation. I was so excited to learn that help is available in North Texas for the deaf and hearing impaired, and his foundation is the only one here. I knew instantly I wanted to be a part of them and help others have the opportunity to hear.

Alyssa Alford

My name is Alyssa Alford, and I was born June 02, 2008. I failed my newborn screening when I was 5 weeks old and was later diagnosed with bilateral profound hearing loss. My parents were devastated when they heard the news and eventually learned there was hope for me to learn to speak spoken language. I received hearing aides at approximately 3 months of age. I received very little or no benefit with my hearing aids due to my degree of hearing loss.

In the meantime my parents were informed about the Cochlear Implant and were given information. After doing much research, they decided it was something I could greatly benefit from. I received my first implant at approximately a year old. Within 6 weeks of being activated my parents started to notice that I was starting to make normal baby cooing and babbling sounds. Approximately 2 ½ months later I received my 2nd implant. Thanks to the Cochlear Implant I made great progress within the first 3 months of being activated; I even learned my first word during that time. I continue to make great progress each and everyday with my implants thanks to Cochlear and the Dallas Hearing Foundation.

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Dallas Ear Institute
7777 Forest Lane, Suite A-103, Dallas, TX 75230 | Phone: (972) 566-7600 | Fax: (972) 566-6560 | www.dallasear.com