Mar 27, 2024 - Health

Charlotte family’s heartwarming TikTok video goes viral

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A message from: Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, P.A.

A family of four smiling together on the beach at sunset.

If you're one of the 2M+ people who saw this touching TikTok video, you might not have known its Charlotte connection.

The story: Charlotte mother Terrina Combs wasn't expecting internet fame when she posted a video of her 3-year-old daughter Adalynn hearing her dad play guitar.

  • Adalynn had just received cochlear implants, so it was the first time she was able to hear his music.

We spoke with Adalynn's parents and her doctors at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates to get the full story behind the video.

A young girl with a pink bow sitting on a wicker chair.

Can you tell us a little about Adalynn's story?

Mrs. Combs: She was born with Usher Syndrome Type 1C, which is a genetic condition that caused deafness in both ears.

Mr. Combs: As a family, we adapted by learning some sign language. Overall, though, we've always treated her just like any normal kid.

Why was Adalynn a good candidate for a cochlear implant?

Dr. Bailey: Adalynn was fit with traditional hearing aids shortly after her initial diagnosis. However, hearing aids have limitations and are designed to provide amplification (volume).

Because Adalynn's hearing loss was severe, she received very limited benefit from the hearing aids. Therefore, it was recommended that her family consider cochlear implantation.

Dr. Jabbour: A cochlear implant takes sound input from the environment and translates it to electric signals that can then be used to stimulate the cochlear nerve, providing hearing in cases of significant hearing loss or deafness.

Mrs. Combs: After we decided to go through with it, it was just a few months before she had the devices implanted.

What is the implant process like?

Dr. Jabbour: A cochlear implant is placed surgically with a procedure that involves a small incision behind the ear.

  • Through that incision, the internal portion of the implant (which connects magnetically to the external portion) is tucked under the scalp, and a path is created through the bone behind the ear to insert the electrode into the cochlea (inner ear).

Dr. Bailey: The surgery typically takes two to four hours under general anesthesia. Approximately three weeks following the procedure, the patient returns to their audiologist for activation.

  • At activation, the external sound processor is turned on and the patient will begin to hear sounds through their cochlear implant for the first time.

It can be very emotional at times (happy tears!), but that's to be expected given cochlear implants are such life-changing technology.

  • Being able to help someone hear for the first time in years — or for the first time ever — is a feeling that can't be described.

Was Adalynn nervous or excited to get the device?

Mrs. Combs: She didn't really understand what the implants would do, but once they were activated, she was really happy with them.

Mr. Combs: She was really quiet that first day, just taking it all in. Now she doesn't even like to take them off for bedtime; she wants to sleep in them.

  • We do take them off just for baths, but if she wants to go swimming, they have a covering you can attach to make them waterproof.

Let's talk about the video. What made you want to record that moment?

Mrs. Combs: Before she had the implants, my husband would play guitar for her and she would lay her head on the guitar to feel the vibrations. Or he would take out an amp, and she would stand against it to feel the sounds.

  • So of course, I wanted to see her reaction to hearing her dad's guitar — as opposed to feeling it — for the first time.

I mainly post on TikTok for family. We don't live close to anyone, so when I shared the video and it went viral, we were kind of amazed.

What are some of her favorite sounds?

Mrs. Combs: She still loves to hear music. She also likes the sounds of her favorite cartoons and waves at the beach.

Would you recommend CEENTA to someone going through a similar process?

Mr. Combs: Yes. Dr. Jabbour is our favorite doctor that she's ever had.

Mrs. Combs: We wouldn't want any other ENT provider caring for her.

Learn more about CEENTA's audiology services.

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