UK & World News

  • 29 March 2014, 2:42

Jo Milne: Deaf Woman Hears For First Time

An amazing world of sound has been opened up to a woman who had been deaf for almost 40 years.

Jo Milne was born with a rare disease, Usher Syndrome, which left her profoundly deaf and with sight problems that mean she is now registered blind.

But when the cochlear implants she had fitted at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital were switched on for the first time this week, Ms Milne's life of silence was ended.

The moment, captured by her mother on her smartphone, has gone viral on the internet.

In it, Ms Milne cannot hold back the tears as she hears a human voice for the first time; a nurse reciting the days of the week and the months of the year.

"It's been such an emotional week," she told Sky News.

"I can't stop crying. It's amazing hearing things for the first time. It's overwhelming."

Cochlear implants have been around since the sixties.

They stimulate nerves electronically to create artificial sounds. They are not suitable for all patients. Luckily for Ms Milne, they have worked for her.

"I've lived in Newcastle all my life," she said.

"And although I've seen the seagulls on the Tyne almost every day, I've never heard them before. Now I know how loud they are!"

Ms Milne said the most amazing sound so far had been hearing the voice of her little niece asking for a biscuit.

"I never knew what a child's voice sounded like. It's so innocent and pure, I broke down in tears," she said.

Music is one of the things she has missed the most.

Now her friends have compiled a playlist of songs from every one of the 40 years she has been living without a soundtrack.

Her favourite songs so far are John Lennon's Imagine, because of the lyrics, and Laura by Bat For Lashes, because it was the first track she heard.

Ms Milne now has to train her brain to recognise the new sounds she is hearing every minute of every noisy day.

She needs to build up a sound library in her brain to recognise those noises more quickly.

But it is a challenge she is relishing. Her next major goal is to have a chat on the phone.

"They say life begins at 40," Ms Milne said.

"For me, it really will. I'm 40 in July."

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