Minn. Company Makes Implant So Deaf Can Hear
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It is raw emotion and joy caught on camera that’s put a smile on nearly 5 million people’s faces in less than a week.
The video shows 29-year-old Sarah Churman, of Texas, hearing clearly for the first time in her life, because of a hearing implant made by Envoy Medical Corporation, a Minnesota company.
29 Years Old And Hearing Myself For The 1st Time!
But Chruman isn’t the only person happy about the implants. Some deaf Minnesotans, like Amy Pajula, know the joy of discovering sound, too.
“All of a sudden, all of your struggles are over, and something that people said could never be done…and to have that change in 20 minutes sitting with a technician is really that emotional,” Pajula said.
Pajula knows what it’s like to leave a muted life.
“I sat through college courses, wearing hearing aids, lost as can be…I had gone to the top of the top, and been told, at the end of the day, there really isn’t anything to help you other than a hearing aid,” Pajula said.
While hearing aids make everything louder, Pajula said they don’t help with understanding.
At 30-years-old, Pajula said she went in to try out the “Esteem” device as part of a clinical trial.
Patrick Spearman, the CEO of Minnesota-based Envoy Medical Corporation that makes the implant, said,” We are sensing the vibration off the ear drum, and then sending that message to the cholea, to the hair cells, and to the brain.”
The device is designed for people with moderate to severe hearing loss.
“We’re averaging about an 86-percent increase in word recognition score. So it’s tremendous,” Spearman said.
Pajula said that she had never heard sounds to crisp and clear until a technician turned her hearing implant on.
” I remember sitting back in the chair, and my shoulders went down, because it didn’t take any effort to hear her,” Pajula said.
When she went outside to her car, where her family was waiting, she heard an unfamiliar voice.
“And my little boy said, ‘Mommy, did you get your machine turned on?’ And I looked at my husband, and I said, ‘Is that his voice?!’” Pajula said.
It’s rediscovering the voices of others that Pajula said ultimately has allowed her to find her own voice.
“In 2006, is really when my life began,” Pajula said.
Amy Pajula is such a believer in the product that she now works for Envoy Medical Corporation.
The implant and the surgery cost $30,000. Spearman said some insurance companies are starting to cover much of the cost.