The Center for Cochlear Implants - Pediatric Program
Dallas Ear Institute has over 30 years of collective experience working with cochlear implant recipients. Our team has implanted siblings, spouses, and multiple generations and is committed to following cochlear implant recipients throughout their hearing journey. Nobody “ages out” of our practice. We have many young adults who were implanted at Dallas Ear Institute as babies or toddlers who are now college or graduate students, basketball or soccer players, musicians, dancers, teachers, engineers, and social workers.
Our experienced team of surgeons, audiologists, speech language pathologists, and neuropsychologists work closely together to provide your child the best care possible throughout their life. Our team’s unique ability to use the feedback from our experienced adult patients to guide the care we provide to the families of our pediatric families sets us apart from other facilities.
Families from all over the world (Canada, Mexico, Belize, Nigeria, Africa, Puerto Rico, Ghana and Peru) have journeyed to find a solution at Dallas Ear Institute for their child’s hearing loss.
Our Patient Stories Then and Now
Siblings: Kemper and Kendall – Implanted at 9 Months of Age
From Kemper and Kendall’s parents: We do not have any family history of deafness, so it was a complete shock to us when our son, Kemper, was born deaf. Much like most first-time parents, we had our typical jitters before Kemper was born, but the news of his deafness turned our jitters into fear: How will we raise a child with hearing loss? How will we communicate with him? Where will he go to school?
After a short period of confusion and depression, my wife, who is a registered pediatric nurse, got to work on one of the things that she does best – research. She found out about cochlear implant technology. Great, but what do we do next? How do we get this? What does this entail?
We decided that we wanted to get Kemper implanted, but we were having a hard time finding a doctor to give us answers and to operate on Kemper before he turned one year old, which was the FDA regulation at that time.
A family friend sent us an email about a Dallas Hearing Foundation event, hosted by Dr. Robert Peters. On a whim, we went to the event, and were fortunate enough to meet and talk with Dr. Peters. We told him that we had a deaf son, and that we were interested in cochlear implants, but we were getting the run around and tired of waiting. Dr. Peters answered our questions and instructed us to make an appointment with him at the Dallas Ear Institute the following week. After that appointment, Dr. Peters and his staff immediately started the process of our cochlear implant journey. He and his team were able to escalate and expedite the process. What took previous doctors and facilities months to perform the pre-surgery steps (ABR, hearing aids, MRI, etc.), the Dallas Ear Institute accomplished in an extremely short amount of time. Dr. Peters operated on Kemper when he was 9 months old. Kemper’s cochlear implants were activated, and he heard his first sounds, at 10 months old.
The physician that we worked with prior to Dr. Peters called us on Kemper’s 1st birthday and announced that they were ready to start the process on Kemper. We were happy to respond that Kemper had already been hearing for over 2 months!
We didn’t hesitate when our second child, Kendall, was also born deaf. We knew exactly who to call. Dr. Peters operated on Kendall when she was 8 months old, and she was activated and hearing at 9 months old.
We will forever be thankful to Dr. Peters and his staff at the Dallas Ear Institute, for not only giving our children the miracle of sound, but also for forging the path for our hearing journeys. Because of them, our son and daughter went from children who couldn’t hear, to kids who don’t listen!
Mackenzie – Implanted at 5 Months of Age
Born 2019. Hospitalized with bacterial meningitis during 2020 Covid-19 lockdown. Received cochlear implants in both ears at 5 months of age.
From Mackenzie’s mother: Mackenzie was born December 2019. She was a happy, healthy, hearing baby. Everything changed on March 17, 2020, when I rushed her to the emergency room with a high fever. Twenty-four hours later, she was being admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit with bacterial meningitis. After a very long two-week battle, it was almost time for her to go home. But not before one final test was given-a hearing screening. A lasting effect of bacterial meningitis can be hearing loss. She failed. Three times. We went home overjoyed she was home and healthy, but with many unanswered questions. It was time for us to seek out a specialist. Amidst an emerging global pandemic, that was no easy task, but we were lucky enough to meet Dr. Peters. Even with his office closed and Dallas in lockdown, he didn’t hesitate to get Mackenzie seen right away. Her tests confirmed she had bilateral profound hearing loss. Dr. Peters told us if we wanted to move forward with cochlear implants, we needed to move quickly. We were all ready to fast track her journey to cochlear implants, but insurance was not. Bilateral surgery is not an FDA approved procedure for a baby so young. Spender and I knew we would never be able to afford surgery out of pocket. We also knew we didn’t have the luxury of time to try and battle the insurance company. Heartbroken and lost, Dr. Peters assured us Mackenzie would have her surgery. That’s when we were introduced to Jennifer Clark at the Dallas Hearing Foundation. They walked us through every step of the way.
From a hearing aid trial to picking the right implant for Mackenzie and being introduced to the wonderful Linda Daniel. Only 8 weeks after leaving the hospital, it was surgery day. On June 8th, 2020, Mackenzie became the youngest bilateral recipient of the MED-EL cochlear implant in the state of Texas at only 5 months old. Since her surgery, with the help of Linda Daniel and Leslie Lianos, Mackenzie has learned to say, ‘uh-oh’, ‘mama’ and ‘hi’. She LOVES music. She loves to dance. None of this would have been possible without the help of the Dallas Hearing Foundation. DHF has given Mackenzie the gift of hearing and for that, we are forever grateful. I also want to thank Dr. Peters again for everything he has done for Mackenzie. Words cannot express the permanent impact you have had on our family. Not only are you a talented doctor and surgeon, you are one of the kindest, caring and compassionate humans I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Your passion and devotion to giving every patient the care they need is unmatched. Next to myself and Spencer, you have always been Mackenzie’s biggest advocate. You are a rare gem. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you again. Thank you for letting me share Mack’s story and for giving her a priceless gift.
Aishee - Implanted at Age 2
Our first visit to the Dallas Ear Institute was back in April 2011. Our daughter Aishee was one and half years old and seemed like she was not able to hear the world around her and consequently not develop her speech and language. We were recommended to the Dallas Ear Institute by her pediatrician and the pediatric ENT specialist.
We arrived at the DEI very nervous and scared about Aishee’s future and what she can do in a world without sound. Our appointment with Dr Hahn at DEI changed all of that. He took great care and patience in explaining to us all the options and the possibilities and what he and the staff at DEI can do to help Aishee have a world full of sound. We still remember the parting words of Dr Hahn from that first visit as he comforted us saying that Aishee can be anything that she wants to be in life, study wherever she wants to be and achieve whatever she desires to – her hearing would never come in the way. The positivity of that visit and that initial experience at the DEI set us up and Aishee on her sojourn for sound around her and hearing.
Within a few months all procedures and tests were efficiently conducted at the DEI and each time we returned home more hopeful than the earlier trip and before Aishee turned two, the surgery was done by Dr Hahn and the cochlear implant was in place. The world of sound had opened for Aishee - thanks to DEI. With Aishee’s CI in place we now had new challenges – to understand the device, to operate it and maintain it while making sure Aishee was able to listen through her sound processors all the time. That is when we met Leslie Lianos at DEI. She took extreme care in setting up the processors and programming them and doing all the necessary things and very patiently explained the whole procedure to us. As it so commonly happens with a complicated system such as the CI , initially, we would have a lot of questions around the operation of the processors. But Leslie was always available - we would text her our questions and doubts and she would answer them and resolve the issue promptly. Even to this day whenever we text Leslie with any question or concern that we have when Aishee has issues with her CI, she always gets back right away with a fix. This is truly incredible support and we cannot be more thankful.
With all the support and help from DEI Aishee’ s hearing was now set in motion. The first few years were gone like a whirlwind with multiple sessions each week with the speech therapist as well as regular meetings with Leslie and Dr Hahn. The team continued to monitor Aishee’ s developments closely and ensured she was getting the right services to aid in her hearing and speech development. When Aishee turned five she was able to attend mainstream public school with regular kids. On turning seven Aishee started to take dancing lessons for an Indian classical dance form called Odissi – a dance style that requires intent listening of the music to correctly understand the “taal” or beat. By now, Aishee has performed dance recitals at several local events. She is also a regular dance performer at community cultural events.
Aishee also started taking martial arts lessons in Taekwondo since the last few years and is now a junior black belt. As she moved to middle school this year her teachers and the ARD committee has recommended that she no longer requires any special-education services at school. This now lets her focus more on core subjects that she loves like advanced mathematics and writing. At school she is the only kid using a CI (Kanso) and often times she has to stand confident and courageous to explain to her peers about her CI and that she needs to use them to hear the world around her.
As she grows up, Aishee seems confident on what she wants to do. She wants to help kids like her hear the world around them and use her journey as a beacon to help them. She has told us – she wants to be an Audiologist just like the folks she meets at DEI!
Jillian – Implanted at 13 Months of Age
Born 2003. Received implants in both ears at 13 months old.
From Jillian at age 18: I feel that I am doing very well, I have been succeeding in life with friends and school and I have been enjoying life! I enjoy hanging out with my friends and doing spontaneous fun things. I enjoy nature as well such as kayaking, hiking, biking, etc. I am an extrovert and enjoy being out and being energized with people. I am studying Kinesiology as of right now and plan to become a physical therapist (hopefully with athletes) and I would also like to do missions work related to my field and help the less fortunate.
From Jillian’s parent: Dallas Ear has played such a vital role in where Jillian is today. They have not only helped her bridge the gap as close as you can of her speech and hearing with CI's but pouring their personal & professional in with her and our family. Jillian is truly an advocate for herself now especially as a Freshman in college, much due to the role that Leslie Lianos has followed throughout her life and has always taken the time to get it right regarding CI's. As the technology continues to change it is amazing to see how far Jillian has come with that benefit and how exciting we know those receiving CI's these times. Yes, as her family we have worked hard & walked alongside her and through the years of speech therapy to working with public education. None of this would be possible without Dr. Peters, Leslie and the staff at Dallas Ear.
We are eternally blessed and thankful for them watching her grow up and helping her get the best she needs to function and do life.
Siblings: Aliza – Implanted Age 19 Months and 5 Years and Bruce – Implanted 11 Months of Age
Aliza born 2001. Bruce born 2005.
From Aliza and Bruce’s parents: Aliza was one day shy of her 1st birthday when she was diagnosed with hearing loss. We were referred to Dr. Peters and his team at Dallas Ear Institute. We received confirmation she lost all her hearing after several tests conducted by the audiologists there. After Dr. Peters discussed the various options including the cochlear implants, we were impressed with him. He did not come across as someone who wanted to “fix Aliza” or in other words, cure her deafness. Instead, he listened to our concerns and took it into consideration that we did not want our daughter to experience the struggles we, her deaf parents, endured growing up. He advised us to meet a family with a son who had a cochlear implant. After meeting them and seeing the success their son was having with his cochlear implant, we knew it was the direction we wanted to take for Aliza. When our son, Bruce, failed his newborn hearing screen we knew without a doubt what our next step would be and that was to see Dr. Peters and his team Dr. Peters, Leslie Lianos, and Linda Daniel were enormous in their efforts to ensure both of our children’s cochlear implant journeys were successful. There were numerous follow up appointments, re-programming, and auditory-verbal therapies but in the end, it paid off.
Regardless of how long it has been since both of our children have been implanted, we continue to be blown away by how well they can hear and speak. Not only that but people do not know they are deaf unless they see their external devices.
Over the years, we have encouraged them to try various activities ranging from T-ball to soccer to softball and more. Aliza was a competitive wakeboarder. Both Aliza and Bruce are quad (4- wheeler) racers. Aliza is currently in her senior year of college with the goal of getting her doctorate in Physical Therapy. Bruce is a junior in high school and loves to push his mom’s buttons by using the bluetooth feature on his device to listen to music. Aliza and Bruce volunteer at the Family Services Center with their grandma and are employed at jobs that require interacting with the general public. There are endless opportunities out there for them and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for them.
Dean - Implanted at 22 Months of Age
Dean was born in July of 2005 and was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at 12 months old. He received his first Cochlear Implant two months before his second birthday then the other at 3 ½ years old. Right after his first implant he began auditory verbal therapy and occupational therapy. We went to both therapists weekly along with speech and deaf ed services through our local school. Honestly, those early years were tough. Because of his late diagnosis, it was hard to imagine him ever catching up. We worked hard though because we always wanted more for him. We didn’t want him to be limited in life. The years have literally flown by and he is now less than six months away from being 17 years old. Dean has been working two jobs in the public since he was 14. He began as a dishwasher and now he prepares food as well as training other employees. Gaming online with his friends is on the top of the list for hobbies along with drawing, crafting, and listening to music. He also has a true love for conversation, he never stops talking even in his sleep. Dean is a sophomore in a mainstream public school. After graduation he plans to attend a local university and major in graphic design and illustration.
Caroline – Implanted at Age 6 Months and 8 Months
From Caroline’s Mother: I have to brag about my girl! Caroline’s age is 7 months and her hearing age is 4 weeks- Today, Linda said she was doing amazing and was right there with 4 to 5 month olds in regard to vocalizations and listening!! All that catch up so quickly! She has also in the last few days started mimicking me and my sounds. One month later: Caroline just had therapy and it was an awesome day! Looks like she is right on schedule with her peers! Lots of sounds and raspberries... Pointing to things... making choices... crawling and trying to pull up/stand... searching for noises... responding to sound and mimicking actions with noises.
Meghana - Implanted at Age 4 and 5
Our second daughter, Meghana, was born on November 15, 2002 in India. Around 6months we noticed her responses were not good so, we got her hearing tested, which revealed she was profoundly deaf in both ears. We were devastated at the thought that she would never hear us say her name or able to hear us.
We got her hearing aids and started therapy in India, but nothing was helpful. We were frustrated and didn’t know what to do. She was almost four years old when we decided to move back to USA.
After we moved to USA, we enrolled her in early childhood center in Plano. Luckily, they got a great Deaf ED program. Director of Deaf ED program Ms. Debbie Martin guided us in getting in touch with Dr. Peters and his team. We were so fortunate to know such a great team. It was a blessing and changed Meghana’s life. Meghana got her first implant surgery in 2007. After one month her implant was turned on. It was an amazing experience when we first saw her hear us. With help of Ms. Linda Daniel (speech therapist) and Lesile Lianos (audiologist), Meghana started hearing and picked up her language and she couldn’t wait to get her second implant. She had her second implant surgery in 2008. After that she just took off. She picked up five years of language in just 2 ½ years.
She got mainstreamed by 2nd grade. She got presidential award in 8th grade and now she got into honors program for bachelor’s degree at university of Texas at Dallas. She even got into Dean’s list. She is interested in accounting and business. We are so happy that with help of Dr. Peters and his team, Meghana has become independent and amazing girl and we know that she will be very happy and will achieve anything she wants to be.