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The Gift Of Hearing

January 8, 2013, 6:06 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

The Gift Of Hearing

Three months ago, we first introduced you to a Canton boy and his parents who hoped he would hear again after suffering severe hearing loss.

Five-year-old Jacob VanderStouwe has been through three surgeries to try to restore his sensation of hearing out of both ears. This week Jacob and his parents found out whether the operations were a success.

Most kids aren't relaxed waiting to see a doctor, but Jacob was looking forward to his most recent appointment.

"We are so excited. We've been waiting for this day for a year," mother Tali VanderStouwe said.

Jacob was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss in his left ear when he was just three years old. That's led to speech problems.

"He doesn't annunciate words as well as maybe he should," father Eric VanderStouwe said.

With Jacob starting school, that's even more of a concern for his parents. So, they started looking at their options and decided to try something known as "Baha" surgery. During an initial operation, doctors make an incision in the skull and place a titanium implant. A second surgery connects a sound processor to that device.

"The processor basically takes the information, noises from the outside that he's missing out on on that side, and transforms it into a signal that then vibrates the little post that's been implanted into the skull," Sanford Dr. Patrick Munson said.

That vibration then transmits to the bones behind the hearing-impaired ear. That movement allows the patient to get the sensation of hearing out of both ears.

"I've not had a child or adult who has had this surgery and wished they hadn't done it just because of the things they didn't realize they were missing out on. Now they are aware of it," Dr. Munson said.

Just how much was Jacob missing? During a test, Jacob was able to hear small sounds for the first time in years. His family thinks it will make a big difference.

"To be able to hear all different types of sounds of vehicles coming and going-that type of thing," Eric said.

"He keeps talking about that the most excited he is is he can hear his friends in school and hear the other kids in school," Tali said.

It's a new sense of hearing that's putting a smile on the five-year-old's face.

The procedure is reversible if Jacob isn't pleased with the results. The Baha procedure is an option for people who have damaged their hearing or have had problems since birth.

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