Profoundly deaf Andrew, 64, hears new sounds for first time after implant
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
A man from Ipswich who was profoundly deaf is now hearing sounds for the first time, aged 64, after an implant - and says he is loving listening to opera and Billy Ocean songs.
Andrew Redmond, of Castle Hill, was born profoundly deaf. He had some hearing in one ear, but was able to hear very few sounds.
He worked at the Asda Superstore on Goddard Road for 35 years before retiring last year, and carried a ‘bleeper’ around to alert him in case of emergencies.
This was partly because in January 2021, he had lost his hearing completely.
“Andrew’s audiologist at Addenbrookes said that can happen, as hearing deteriorates in many people as they get older,” explained Andrew’s sister, Wendy Turner, 71.
However, this meant Andrew was now eligible for a cochlear implant, a small device which electronically stimulates the cochlear nerve used for hearing.
“I had to be totally deaf for six weeks before I had the operation,” said Andrew.
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The implant was inserted on February 9. Andrew’s hearing was incredibly sensitive the first time the cochlear implant was switched on, on March 28, but at the second switch on a month later, his hearing “blossomed.”
“The first sound I heard was my walking stick, tapping on the floor,” said Andrew. “The audiologist held a piece of paper in front of her mouth, and asked if could hear the vowels she was saying. And I could say, yes I can!”
“We’re working on new skills now, like pronouncing different words, and differentiating between sounds that are high and low, soft and loud,” said Douglas Gray, 73, Andrew’s close friend who often interprets into British Sign Language (BSL) for him.
“It’s getting used to using a part of the brain that hasn’t been used for 64 years.”
Andrew is now moderately deaf, rather than profoundly deaf.
But he said suddenly experiencing a whole range of sound he has never heard before is not overwhelming at all.
“I am excited to learn more sounds! My favourites are opera singers, and Billy Ocean songs.
“I now have heard a dog barking, the car indicator and the microwave pinging.
“I have been given a list of sounds I need to work through, and one of them is an alarm clock ringing. That’s not one of my favourites!
“He was so excited in the car with my husband, when they heard a crow cawing,” said Wendy.
Andrew and Douglas met many years ago, through the Friends of the Deaf Association, of which Andrew’s father was Chair.
“In those days, deaf and blind children had to go to separate schools. There weren’t places like Rushmere Hall,” explained Wendy.
“Andrew went to a boarding school in Gorleston from when he was three. Children didn’t even come home at weekends.
“They weren’t allowed to be part of our world. Some deaf children would come home, and wouldn’t recognise their siblings.”
Wendy and Andrew’s father raised enough money to buy a van to transport the children home at the weekends, which Douglas would sometimes drive.
Douglas’ parents were deaf, and he himself worked as a BSL interpreter for many years.
He says it is amazing to see how much progress Andrew has made in the past few months.
“This man is incredible. This whole experience has been an emotional ride for all of us.”
“Andrew is so family orientated, and there are some activities he hasn’t been able to take part in. For example, when we went on a cruise a few years ago, Andrew didn’t come to the disco in the evening.
“Now he wants to go on another one so he can experience a disco. I think he’s got his sights set on Las Vegas!”
While some people can become bored after they retire, Andrew is having new experiences every day.
Next on Andrew’s list is to hear a cat meowing. “I had a cat for many years, but I never got to hear a meow,” he explained.
He has visited Douglas and his three cats many times, but so far, they haven’t obliged.