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Sunshine story: Deaf woman to hear again by 100th birthday

Mollie Smith, a 99-year-old has become the oldest person in Europe to receive a hearing implant, and will hear by the time she turns hits a century

Warwickshire: Mollie Smith has struggled with hearing problems for decades but has just had a cochlear implant to allow her to hear again. Born a month after the start of the First World War, the great-grandmother’s earliest memories were of the sound of droning zeppelins overhead.

Mollie Smith
HEARING AID: The cochlear implant was fitted in January and switched on last month so Mrs Smith will be able to hear in time for her 100th birthday in September

Mrs Smith’s hearing began to fade when she was in her 70s, followed by her sight 20 years later, leaving the active pensioner from Rugby, increasingly isolated.

She feared that due to her age she wouldn’t be eligible for a cochlear implant, and jumped at the chance when one was offered.

It was implanted in her left ear at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham in January before being switched on last month. It means she will now be able to hear in time for her 100th birthday in September. “It’s the best early birthday present,” she said.          

What is a cochlear implant?

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that gives a person who is profoundly deaf a sense of sound. It will not cure deafness, but is a prosthetic substitute for hearing. The device receives sound, processes it, and sends small electric currents near the auditory nerve. The currents activate the nerve, which sends a signal to the brain, which the person comes to learn as hearing.

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