Michelle Reed


Deaf woman gets cochlear implants as she’s going blind

Deaf woman gets cochlear implants as she’s going blind

Jo Milne, 40, from Gateshead, defied the odds when she underwent an eight-hour, high-risk operation to experience hearing for the first time… because it was the only way she could hold onto some sense of “normal” communication.

She was born profoundly deaf and had a happy, early childhood. She wore a phonic ear box-an old style hearing aid strapped to her chest- that helped her get a sense of her environment. She describes her deafness as “like being under water and trying to listen to the world”.

Despite the cruelty of both teachers and children at her school, Jo accepted deafness as part of her identity. However, she struggled with the news that at just 16, she was going blind as well. At 29 she was diagnosed with Usher syndrome, a genetic condition that affects hearing and vision, sometimes gradually leading to complete blindness. As her sight deteriorated, an overwhelming and deafening fear took hold of her.

Jo says it was when she stopped to take in a view of rolling green hills in her home town that she thought to herself ‘I can still see’, and decided to take the risk associated with Cochlear implants.

“The month after surgery was the most petrifying. With the implants not yet activated, and because I wasn’t able to wear my hearing aids, I was immersed in complete, terrifying silence”.

Watch what happens in the video in moment her implants are turned on.

Video credit: Tremayne Crossley

Related links:

5 common myths about tinnitus

Childhood illnesses linked to hearing loss later in life

Questions everyone should ask an audiologist