(WKYC) Maggie Gleason, 14, who was born deaf, heard sound for the first time in her life when hearing specialists at UH Case Medical Center turned on an innovative electronic device called an auditory brainstem implant, or ABI. The implantable device provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf.
Maggie was born without cochleas, the small snail-shaped bones in her inner ears which house the auditory nerve. As a result of her condition, she had no auditory nerve. Maggie had to wait for a technology like ABI to advance to a stage where it could help her. ABI bypasses the ear and stimulates the brain stem.
"For someone who has never heard, the perception and awareness of sound is extremely helpful," says Dr. Maroun Semaan, director of Otology, Neurotology and Balance Disorders at UH Case Medical Center.
Maggie's surgery was in September and the system was turned on and tested Dec. 28. Her family watched as the medical team activated the device and recorded the first moments of her being able to hear. Her dad's voice, because it was low, came in the best for her.
"I always felt I would have a lot to say to her when the moment came," said her father Frank Gleason, "but I was left speechless."