It’s hard to imagine what it feels like to not be able to hear anything, to be completely deaf. However, this is the situation that Chloe Ring, an adorable little girl from the United Kingdom, was born with. A few months later, after doctors had noticed a lazy eye, the Ring family was dealt another devastating blow, Chloe was also blind. Born with dual sensory loss, her hearing loss was found by doctors at just a week old after learning her father suffered from hearing loss. But Chloe’s sad beginning has a wonderfully happy ending.
Chloe’s parents, Neil and Jane Ring weren’t giving up. Knowing their little girl was a fighter, they began researching the options available to their little girl. At six weeks old, Chloe was outfitted with hearing aids, which would allow her to be able to sense vibrations. It gave her parents some hope, but then they had found out she wouldn’t ever be able to talk if she used only the hearing aids. Mrs. Ring remembers “She’s such a communicator, even putting her hearing aids she would try to make sounds, but it wasn’t until we had further tests that we were told that there would be no chance of Chloe ever speaking, even with her hearing aids.”
A decision was made that would change little Chloe’s life forever. She would undergo cochlear implantation surgery so that she would be able to hear, as well as speak. Mrs. Ring recalls, “As soon as someone told us Chloe would never speak, we started to seriously consider the implants.” In 2009, the Ring family met with the team that would be performing the surgery. Mrs. Ring says “We were still in shock, we had been to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London for more tests. Doctors reassessed Neil to see if his condition held any clues as to what was wrong with Chloe. We really wanted to make sure that the implants were the right choice. It is a five-hour operation and they drill into your baby’s head, you want to make sure that you are making the right decision.”
The process to get Chloe outfitted with the implants was a long process. Recalling their journey, Mrs. Ring says “The team from Bristol came to our home, to assess Chloe in her surroundings. It is a very important process, it is an expensive procedure, so they have to be sure your child is right for the treatment. They would have liked her to be implanted at a year. But in the end she was about 14 months. You never know as a parent, if you are doing the right thing. We were still trying to make sense of everything and there’s no guarantee it would work. The implants don’t work for every child.
On August 4, 2009, Chloe underwent the cochlear implantation surgery. Remembering what it was like before the surgery, Mrs. Ring says “Her life before the implants was very small, she lay on her back a lot and she suffered developmental delay and lacked motivation. She sometimes crawled on her tummy but she never went far. She would reach out and touch things but it was limited. She couldn’t see or hear what was around her, so didn’t know to move about.” Following the operation, there was a four-week waiting period before the specialists would be able to switch the implants on and find out if they worked. During that time, Chloe was not allowed to wear her hearing aids. Her family did everything they could to keep her engaged during that waiting period.
Finally, on September 3, 2009, the Ring family made their way to an appointment with the specialists that would ultimately open up a door to the world for Chloe. As she sat upon her mother’s lap, playing with her toys, she seemed as though she was in her own little universe. Then, as the specialists slowly turned the sound up on her implants, Chloe began to respond, bobbing up and down on her mother’s lap, smiling from ear to ear as she picks up on all of the new sounds around her. Watch her incredibly heartwarming reaction to hearing for the first time, below.
Soon after her implants were turned on, Chloe had uttered her first words. Mrs. Ring and her husband are incredibly grateful, saying “Opportunities have opened in front of our little girl. You could tell she was bright before, but so much of life was cut off from her. But now, she is active and she is an amazing chatterbox.” Today, Chloe is a happy and healthy well-adjusted five year-old, who is very participatory amongst her peers of regular education students.
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