Ohio Boy Receives Gift of Hearing

March 28, 2007

Although born deaf, 15-month old Jonah Knueve is now able to hear his parents voices. Weeks before his first birthday, Knueve became one of only a handful of children in the country under the age of one to receive simultaneous, bilateral cochlear implants.

Doctors at Columbus Childrens Hospital implanted a computer chip and electrode in each ear's cochlea to stimulate undamaged hearing-nerve fibers.  When the implant's external microphones detect speech and other sounds, the speech processor codes sound information to the internal computer chip and transfers the coded information to Jonah's brain, which not only allows him to hear, but will help him learn how to talk.

The more time that passes before the child receives the implants, the more difficult normal speech development is for that child, said Richard Kang, MD, chief of Otolaryngology at Columbus Childrens Hospital and a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

In fact, many physicians say the sooner kids have the surgery, the better.  Each year, more than 13,000 babies are born deaf or born with severely limited hearing.  Doctors in the United States began fitting patients with cochlear implants in the 1980s, but only if they were 18-years or older.  Today, the age continues to decrease, and despite some concerns the implants could affect a childs balance, doctors at Childrens say that was not the case with Knueve.  The results they see are positive.

He actually took his first step right after the surgery, said Kang.  So clearly, at least clinically, that indicates that the implants did not impact his development in balance in terms of learning to walk.

Knueve will require adjustments to the implants throughout his life, but by the time he is old enough to share his thoughts, he likely will not remember the 11 months he spent in silence.

Pam Barber / Mary Ellen Fiorino
Columbus Children's Hospital Marketing and Public Relations
(614) 722-4595

About Nationwide Children's Hospital

Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report’s 2019-20 list of “Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric health care systems providing wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as adult patients with congenital disease. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of more than 13,000 providing state-of-the-art pediatric care during more than 1.5 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded freestanding pediatric research facilities. More information is available at NationwideChildrens.org.