Cochlear Implant Gives a Heartland Boy the Gift of Sound

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh says he can hear again. In October, the Cape Girardeau native surprised everyone when he announced he was deaf. Now, after having a cochlear implant in his left ear, Limbaugh says his hearing is back. Cochlear implants are relatively common, and it's helped one Heartland boy hear for the first time. If it wasn't for those implants, 7-year-old Jacob Heeb couldn't live the life he's had for the past two years, and his family says it's nothing short of a miracle.

As you listen to Jacob reading one of his favorite books, it's hard to believe that just two and a half years ago, he was deaf. A cochlear implant in his right ear changed his life.

His teacher, Sister Arlene Eveld says, "Jacob had absolutely no speech and no language, so that when he got his implant, and we mapped it and turned it on, he suddenly started hearing sounds. We then had to develop those sounds." A microphone, speech processor, and transmitter coil work together to allow Jacob to hear sounds. His father, Dan Heeb is so proud of the cochlear implant that he wanted us to see the impact it has on Jacob, when they take it off. Heeb yells, "Jacob, can you hear me? Jacob can you hear me?" While his father yelled, Jacob walked away.

Reading his favorite books about steam engines, helps Jacob advance at such a fast pace. In fact, since his surgery two and a half years ago, his learning skills have almost tripled.

Jacob should be up to speed with other children his age in as little as a year, but he's already doing better than his parents, his brother, and teacher could have ever dreamed. He's able to do things he never could do before. Dan Heeb says, "If he's sick, he can tell you what's bothering him, if he needs something, he'll let you know. The cochlear implant has really conquered deafness."

Doctors only used the cochlear implant in one ear, because the surgery actually damages the inner ear. If more sophisticated technology comes along in the future, they want that other ear to be healthy enough to take advantage of it.