Deaf woman Joanne Milne hears for first time

A woman from Gateshead has heard sound for the first time, as Danny Savage reports

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The moment a 39-year-old woman heard for the first time, thanks to cochlear implants, has been captured on video.

Joanne Milne burst into tears when she heard a nurse reading out the days of the week.

Ms Milne, from Gateshead, was born deaf and during her 20s she also began to lose her sight due to the rare medical condition Usher syndrome.

She said she was delighted by the results of the "life-changing" procedure to fit implants.

'So happy'

Ms Milne said: "The switch-on was the most emotional and overwhelming experience of my life and I'm still in shock now.

"The first day everybody sounded robotic and I have to learn to recognise what these sounds are as I build a sound library in my brain.

Cochlear implants

  • A surgically-implanted electronic device that can improve hearing by stimulating the auditory nerve
  • Although an implant cannot restore hearing to normal it does give the sensation of sounds
  • Not suitable for all deaf people, and those considering the surgery have to undertake in-depth hearing, speech and language, educational and psychological assessments
  • The implant is surgically placed under the skin behind the ear, while externally there is a microphone, speech processor and transmitter

"Hearing things for the first time is so, so emotional, from the ping of a light switch to running water. I can't stop crying.

"I can already foresee how it's going to be life changing and the implants will get better and better over time. I'm so, so happy."

Ms Milne, who works for charity Sense, said she was now a lot more aware of things around her.

'Studio in floods'

She thanked the team at the Midlands Implant Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, for the procedure, which was carried out last month.

In an interview with BBC WM, her mother Ann said: "She is just overwhelmed by it all.

"To be able to hear footsteps and we went out for a meal and she said she could actually hear the clinking of the plate when she was eating. Things we just take for granted."

As a result of the transformation, Ms Milne's friend Tremayne Crossley decided to make her a compilation of songs - selecting one track from each year of her life.

He then sent the compilation to BBC 6 Music radio presenter Lauren Laverne.

After the playlist was featured on the show this week, Ms Laverne tweeted: "Just watched a video of today's #Memory Tape recipient having her cochlear implant turned on and hearing for the first time. Studio in floods."

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