Mighty Blog

Loaner hearing aid program help brothers Connor and Roman prepare for cochlear implants

Tyla and Matt weren’t sure what was possible after they learned their second child Connor was born with significant hearing loss. Both parents are able to hear; so can their oldest child, Emma. So, their son being deaf was unfamiliar territory. However, they knew they wanted Connor to have the chance to hear and speak. With the expert care and treatment Connor and the family received while getting a cochlear implant at the Audiology program at Children’s Minnesota – they knew exactly what to do when their third child, Roman, was also born with significant hearing loss.

Connor’s journey

Connor was referred to Audiology at Children’s Minnesota when he was about 2 months old. The family first met with Jesi Novak, lead audiologist, who confirmed Connor’s hearing loss and his candidacy for a cochlear implant. They also met with Dr. Brianne Roby, pediatric otolaryngologist and surgeon who would implant the device.

Brothers Roman (left), Connor (right).

But before Connor could get the implant, he had to go through a six-month hearing aid trial to see if a hearing aid would provide enough stimulation or if a cochlear implant would be needed to accomplish the family’s goals of Connor using listening and spoken language. Instead of the family having to buy a hearing aid for the trial, they were able to use one of the loaner hearing aids available at Children’s Minnesota.

“We thought we’d have to pay for them, but then Jesi told us we can use the loaner hearing aid and once Connor is implanted, we just return it,” remembers Tyla.

Their audiologist Jesi also helped Tyla and Matt prepare for what Connor may hear and speak like once implanted.

“Jesi gave us devices that allowed us to hear what the world sounds like for kids with cochlear implants. She also recommended YouTube videos for us to watch to get an idea about what he could sound once he started speaking,” says Tyla.

Connor completed the trial and Dr. Roby implanted his cochlear implant at 11 months old. He is now 4 years old and attending Northern Voices, a school for young children with hearing loss.

Roman’s journey

When Tyla and Matt’s third child Roman failed his newborn hearing test after he was born – they knew who they wanted to call.

“We reached out to Jesi shortly after Roman was born. We just love how she treats us as parents. She respects our decisions, so we knew we wanted to go back to her with Roman, especially after seeing how well Connor was doing,” says Tyla.

Like his older brother, Roman used the loaner hearing aid program until he got his cochlear implant at 9 months old. He’s now 1 and a half and enrolled at the same school as Connor. Tyla credits Jesi for helping the boys get to where they are today.

“Now you can’t get them to be quiet! Roman is saying a few words and learning to sign. Connor is learning to lip read. When we have questions, we reach out to Jesi and she gives us answers and guidance,” says Tyla.

Donate your hearing aids

During Better Speech and Hearing Month in May the Children’s Minnesota ENT/Audiology program is collecting used hearing aids for its loaner program. Hearing aids in good working condition will be cleaned, checked and distributed in the loaner program. Hearing aids in disrepair will either be sent to the manufacturer to be repaired or recycled. You can drop off hearing aids at one of the Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) and Facial Plastic Surgery clinic locations.

You can also donate financially to the ENT/Audiology program here: