Eight-year-old Porter Ashby was having a bad day. He wasn’t in the mood to be at the children’s hospital—again. From the time Porter was a baby, he had a very serious hearing loss. He couldn’t hear his mom calling his name or someone banging on pots and pans. The doctors gave Porter hearing aids, but they were uncomfortable and didn’t help him hear much better.
When Porter was three years old, he went to the hospital and had an operation to get a cochlear implant in his left ear. Porter was excited about all the new sounds he could hear.
Since then, Porter has gone back to the hospital many times so the doctors can find out how well his implant is working. Usually this is fun. He gets to see his friends at the hospital and play games while the nurses test his hearing.
But not today. Porter had already been at the hospital for several hours. He had already played the games and answered the questions the nurse asked him. He was tired and ready to go home.
Then the doctor wanted to test how well Porter was pronouncing words. He asked Porter to sing “Happy Birthday.”
Porter said he didn’t feel like singing that song, so the doctor asked him what song he would like to sing.
Porter remembered that he had been learning “Called to Serve” in Primary. It was his favorite song, so he sang both verses.
“That was amazing, Porter,” the doctor said. “What a wonderful song!”
By then Porter was feeling much better. When all the tests were finished, the doctor called one of the nurses in. “Porter just sang an amazing song. Will you sing it again for the nurse, Porter?”
Porter was happy to do it. He sang his favorite song again, smiling from ear to ear.
What Is a Cochlear Implant?
A cochlear implant is an electronic device that helps people hear better. One part of the device goes inside the ear. The part you can see on the outside of the head is like a microphone.
Photographs courtesy of the Ashby family; illustration by Steve Kropp