A toddler was overcome with emotion as she was able to hear her mother and father’s voices for the first time in her life. Q’ela Pierce, aged three, who had been deaf since birth, was recorded playing with her toys at the magical moment her cochlear implant was switched on.
She is seen immediately putting her hands to her head before bursting into tears as she takes in sounds for the first time. Despite her reaction, the activation did not hurt Q’ela, however – it was simply the shock to hear her parents, Nikitia Vasser, 33, and Quaneef Pierce, 25.
After taking a minute to calm her down, her father Quaneef slowly says his daughter’s name, which immediately attracts her attention. Having now overcome the initial shock, Q’ela puts her hands to her head but reacts with excitement at hearing father say her name.
The tearful moment, captured by Quaneef, marked the end of a long journey for the family, who were told when Q’ela was born that she had failed her newborn screening.
Q’ela Pierce, aged three, puts her hand up to her head as her parents turn on her cochlear hearing device at their home in Florida
After failing another test a few months later and then not responding well to speech and language through hearing aids, Q’ela became a candidate for a cochlear implant in January. Her surgery took place on August 29 in Nemours Children’s Hospital, Orlando, Florida, but it wasn’t until October 3, when her incision had fully healed, that her family were able to attend the activation.
In the weeks since the activation, Nikitia said her daughter has started to recognize nature sounds, though she is still unable to understand where human speech is coming from.
While at first the shock of hearing noises left her in tears, Q’ela soon got used to the new phenomenon
After Quaneef shared the video on Facebook – declaring, ‘First time hearing and it broke my heart’ – the parents have received an outpouring of well wishes as their video went viral.
Nikitia, from Florida, said: ‘This journey has been really rough, but I never gave up hope so I was ecstatic and emotional during the activation.
‘Since activation my family has been so excited, and everyone works on speech with Q’ela and makes sure she keeps her coil attached to her head.
‘She’s doing well. She still doesn’t understand when we speak that the sound she’s hearing is coming from us, but she recognizes nature sounds.
‘I hope this video lets others know there is hope for you or your loved one to hear again.’