Grayson Clamp, Deaf Since Birth, Hears Father's Voice After Brain Stem Implant [VIDEO]

By iScienceTimes Staff on June 20, 2013 4:17 PM EDT

grayson clamp
Grayson Clamp, deaf since birth, underwent a breakthrough surgery to restore his hearing. He lit up after hearing his father's voice for the first time. (Photo: YouTube screenshot)

Grayson Clamp, a 3-year-old boy from Charlotte, N.C., who was born deaf, has undergone a breakthrough surgery and is now able to hear.

Grayson was born without cochlear nerves. The cochlear nerve brings sound from the inner ear to the brain. Without it, humans can't process or hear sound.

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So Grayson was given a cochlear implant, an electronic device implanted on the skull that contains a microphone and a speaker that transmits sound into the inner ear. But because Grayson lacks a cochlear nerve entirely, the surgery was not successful.

Grayson's parents, Len and Nicole, enrolled him in an FDA trial to receive an "auditory brain stem implant." The implant, used on about 1,000 adults since 1979, requires brain surgery, and in the U.S. is only allowed to be used on children on an FDA trial basis. (In Europe, auditory brain stem implants have been used for years on both adults and children.)

The surgery, performed at UNC Hospitals, was successful this time, and the look on Grayson's face as he hears his father's voice for the first time is priceless.

"I've never seen another look like that," Len Clamp told a local news outlet. "I mean, he looked deep into my eyes, and he was hearing my voice for the first time." He added, "It's been phenomenal for us."

Grayson's mother said they didn't know what the sudden sensation of hearing must be like for little Grayson.

"We don't know exactly what it's like for him," said Nicole Clamp. "We don't know exactly what he hears. His brain is still trying organize itself to use sound."

Now Grayson's parents have to slowly accustom him to life with sound, and gradually his auditory brain stem impla will be fine-tuned by doctors as Grayson grows. He'll also have to undergo speech as well as healing therapy.

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