“The first thing she heard was my voice calling her name and she reacted right away and looked at me. I could not hold back my tears.”
Bruna Perin will never forget the day her daughter Luisa’s cochlear implant was switched on for the first time.
“It was a very beautiful moment. The first thing she heard was my voice calling her name and then she reacted right away and looked at me. I could not hold back my tears. It was amazing.”
Luisa (3) was born in Brazil. The Perin family moved to New Zealand when Luisa was eight months old, and soon after Bruna started noticing problems with Luisa’s hearing.
She was eventually diagnosed with bilateral neurosensory hearing loss, which means there is damage to the inner ear or to the nerves connecting the inner ear to the brain.
“She had a lack of response to sound. We could bang a door, and she didn't care at all. I started trying to test her with loud sounds, and she wasn't responding.
“It makes me sad thinking that she couldn’t hear anything for the first year and a half of her life. We still don't know if she lost her hearing or if she was born deaf.”
When Luisa was 18 months old she received her cochlear implant. The Perin family aren’t New Zealand citizens, so they weren’t eligible for government funding. With incredible support from their community in Brazil, they raised the money for the surgery and gave their child the gift of hearing.
“Every time that she achieves something or she comes out with a different word or a different sound, I feel so proud,” says Bruna. “The first time she recognised music and started dancing, it was amazing. We speak Portuguese so she can speak Portuguese and English now. But I would say that her favorite sound is music.”
Bruna says it’s always difficult as a parent to watch your child battle obstacles, and that Luisa will have to work hard to learn everything from the beginning. But with cochlear implants, she says her daughter will be able to achieve anything she sets her mind to.
“I'm so grateful for the technology. I'm so grateful to see the future that she can achieve with cochlear implants.”
Bruna’s advice to other parents with hearing-impaired children is to be patient and take advantage of all the amazing support and resources that are available. She says like Luisa, every child is different and has their own journey.
“Your child is unique, so they're going to have their own difficulties and their own winnings as well. It's a lot but believe in the technology, believe in the professionals, and believe in your child because they can achieve great things.”