Sweet moment deaf baby hears her mother's voice for the first time

A video has captured the moment a deaf baby heard her mother’s voice for the first time.

Liv, from Minnesota, failed two hearing tests soon after she was born on 13 June. Genetic screening later revealed she has a mutation that makes her completely deaf in one ear and only able to hear “moderately” in the other.

Liv tried hearing aids for seven months, before the family’s health insurance approved her to have a cochlear implant fitted.

Just a few months on, Liv “loves music” and is a “totally normal baby”.

Liv was born with a connexin 26 mutation, which is responsible for one in 10 childhood hearing loss cases in the US. The youngster had a routine screening after she was born, which she failed twice.

Once home, her parents Marni and Derek opted for a “more in-depth hearing test”, which confirmed she was deaf.

Genetic screening later revealed Liv’s parents both carry a recessive gene for the mutation. Any child of theirs therefore has a one in four chance of being born with the condition.

Marni and Derek's daughter Liv was born deaf, while their son Lou has healthy hearing. (Supplied)

With no family history of hearing loss, and a healthy two-year-old son, they initially struggled to accept Liv’s diagnosis.

“It was hard; you don’t expect something like that,” Marni, 31, tells Yahoo UK.

“The last thing you want for your new baby is knowing they’ll [face] a challenge. We didn’t know what her options were.”

Despite their concerns, the parents were “super optimistic” hearing aids would be effective. Their optimism was misplaced, however, with Liv failing to react when they banged pots or their dog barked.

Seven months on, insurance was approved for Liv to have a cochlear implant.

Liv has shown more facial expressions since having the cochlear implant fitted. (Supplied)

The US Food and Drug Administration lowered the age to have an implant fitted from one year to nine months in March. The UK has no minimum age for the surgery, but the patient must weigh at least 7kg.

“The earlier you do it, the better results,” Derek, 32, tells Yahoo UK.

The surgery involves a stimulator bering placed in the bone just behind the ear and an electrode inserted into the cochlea, the hearing organ. An electrical message is sent through the electrode to the auditory nerve, which connects to the brain.

Liv was in and out of hospital the same day, with Marni describing the process as “pretty straightforward”.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, only Liv’s mother could be with her while she had the operation.

Marni and Derek want to give hope to other parents going through a similar ordeal. (Supplied)

‘She’s going to live a beautiful life’

A few months on from the procedure, Liv reacts to the doorbell, dog and loves it when her parents “click their tongue”.

“We do loud things and she can really hear it,” said Marni, a nurse.

Liv’s parents have also noticed she is smiling more, has developed new facial expressions and turns when you say her name.

The youngster will continue to meet with an audiologist until they find the hearing “level” that is right for her.

“It’s like a dimmer light; [we’re] slowly bringing it up until we reach that goal,” said Marni.

These consultations have been somewhat disrupted, however, by the coronavirus pandemic.

Marni and Derek are speaking out to bring comfort to other parents in a similar situation.

“The thing that gave me hope was seeing other children [online] on the journey ahead of her and how well they are doing,” said Marni. “That saved me some days.

“I don’t know what’s to come of this, but I know she’ll be okay, she’s shown us that.

“She’s going to live a beautiful life.”

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