39-Year-Old Deaf Woman Hears for First Time

Ralphie Aversa
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39-Year-Old Deaf Woman Hears for First Time

A 39-year-old woman is hearing sound for the first time after receiving a set of cochlear implants.

Joanne Milne of Gateshead in the U.K. was born deaf because of Usher syndrome. It also made her lose her sight when she was in her late-20s. She is now legally blind.

But thanks to doctors at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Milne regained one sense. About four weeks ago, she underwent surgery for cochlear implants. This past week, Milne returned to the hospital to have the implants turned on. She brought a friend, Tremayne Crossley, along to film the moment.

In the video that Crossley shot, Milne is sitting across from a hospital employee who cautions that her new sense of hearing might be overwhelming at first. As the worker begins to recite the days of the week, Milne is moved to tears. The employee also warns that everything may sound high-pitched at first, but eventually her brain will readjust and everything will sound normal.

"It's a big, big life-changing day today," she adds, trying to comfort Milne, who at this point is now shaking. "Can you hear your own voice?"

Milne replies that she can, and the medic continues with the evaluation.

There are two different uploads of the same video on YouTube; the clips have a combined total of about 1.3 million views. Many commenters are applauding Milne for her courage as well as the advancement in medical technology.

"Hearing things for the first time is so emotional, from the ping of a light switch to running water. I can't stop crying, and I can already foresee how it's going to be life-changing." Milne told The Journal in the U.K. "Over the last 48 hours, hearing someone laughing behind me, the birds twittering, and just being with friends … they didn't have to tap my arm to get my attention, which is a massive leap."

Milne is now catching up on all the music she has missed during her life. Crossley teamed up with a disc jockey at BBC Radio to create a playlist of tracks from each year of Milne's life. The first song Milne heard after gaining her hearing was John Lennon's "Imagine."