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Sammie H. and her mother, Jenifer H., look back on Sammie’s hearing journey and discuss how far she has come since she got Cochlear Implants. Today, Sammie is a sports star, never letting her progressive hearing loss stand in the way of achieving her dreams:

What was Sammie’s hearing journey like?

Sammie with progressive hearing lossJenifer H.: “Sammie was born in 2002 with a moderate hearing loss. She was fit for her first pair of hearing aids at 19 months. The screaming, frustrated toddler became quiet and happy, soaking in the sounds she had been missing. She was always active, jumping around and constantly shooting hoops with her little brothers.

Unfortunately, as the years went on, her hearing slowly declined. When Sammie was 8, her 7 year-old brother, Jacob, started rapidly losing his hearing as well. At that point, we discovered that they both had connexin 26 gene mutations, which caused their progressive hearing loss.

After lots of research, at 10 years old, Sammie started a video blog about her and her brother’s process of getting Cochlear Implants. After her Cochlear Nucleus® 5 Sound Processors were activated, Sammie’s success in both school and sports accelerated. She was always a good student, but her test scores skyrocketed after her activation. Her speech went from ‘sloshy’ to clear. Her confidence soared.”

How did you (Sammie) get started playing sports?

Sammie with progressive hearing loss playing volleyballSammie H.: “In third grade, I wanted to try basketball and volleyball. I instantly fell in love and very quickly, a hobby became a lifestyle. There are many reasons why I fell in love with sports. At first it was just fun, but when my hearing began to decline around the same time, sports became an outlet to channel my frustration…you do not need to hear well to shoot a basketball or hit a volleyball. Even though I had some trouble, I had very supportive friends and family that helped me. They understood to face me when they were talking, but other than that, I was treated no differently than other kids.

Jenifer H.: “Sammie has played sports year-round for seven years. She played both basketball and volleyball for school starting in seventh grade. In eighth grade, in addition to both of those school sports seasons, she made a top national team for USA volleyball. She has traveled with her teams all over the country for three years. Even winning a third place medal in the 2016 Girls Junior National Championship in Indianapolis!”

Being deaf does not stop me from chasing what I want to achieve, with my Cochlear Implants I am able to do what any other kid can.

How does your hearing loss affect your life?

Sammie with progressive hearing loss, playing basketballSammie H.: “My hearing loss has not been a huge problem at all, everyone has their own difficulties, I am just blessed enough to know mine. During games I glance over at my coach for visual cues just in case, but with my Cochlear Implants, I am able to get most of what I need. Being deaf does not stop me from chasing what I want to achieve, with my Cochlear Implants, I am able to do what any other kid can.”

What are your plans for the future?

Sammie H.: “In high school, sports are very competitive; a lot of kids tryout. It is either the beginning of your career or the end for most. I plan to play sports throughout college and am going to study medicine.

Is your child struggling with progressive hearing loss? Look into Cochlear Implants as a solution and get them access to full sound as soon as possible.

Cara Lippitt
Cara Lippitt is the Public Relations Associate Manager at Cochlear Americas. She is responsible for consumer marketing social media and blog content. Cara is inspired by the stories of the recipients that she is able to tell and the incredible journeys they have taken. Cara was born and raised in Colorado and adores the mountains, snow and the world of musical theatre.