Day-to-day, many of us don’t think about how important our senses are because we are constantly using them to experience and interpret the world. Of course, there are people who, for a variety of reasons, don’t have the same abilities most of us take for granted. That leaves them impaired in some way, or even completely blind and deaf. However, with the advancement of science and medicine, new technologies are allowing people to see and hear the world for the very first time.
10. Sonia and Anita
Sonia and Anita are sisters who live in rural India. They were born blind, and there was a simple surgery that could fix their eyesight. However, the girls’ parents only made 17 cents an hour and couldn’t afford the $300 needed to pay for the 15 minute surgery.
Luckily for the sisters, the charity 20/20/20 got involved and paid for the girls to have the surgeries. The video above shows the first moments when Sonia, 12, and Anita, 6, had their bandages taken off, and for the first time were able to see their mother, and sunlight. After the surgeries, the girls progressed well. Now able to see, Sonia started attending school, where she made new friends.
9. Jonathan Breaux
On Christmas Eve 2007, four-month-old Jonathan Breaux of Houston, Texas, became sick, and his parents took him to the hospital. He was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, which infects membranes and the spine, and can be lethal. Fortunately, Jonathan survived, but he was left in a condition equivalent to cerebral palsy, as well as being rendered deaf.
Jonathan’s parents soon had to decide if he should get a cochlear implant. The problem was that cochlear implants have both internal and external components. The inside of Jonathan’s ear was hardening, meaning they only had a few weeks to decide whether or not he should get it. Ultimately, they decided that it was for the best and he underwent the surgery. In the video, it is pretty clear when the implant is turned on because you can see the young boy smile at his mother.
Five years after falling ill, Breaux’s hearing is fine, and he’s still working on his speech. His family did point out that he does seem to like girls; he was known to chase them around the playground.
8. Joanne Milne
There are few things more terrifying than going both blind and deaf, and that situation was becoming an unfortunate reality for Joanne Milne of Gateshead, England. Milne was born with Usher Syndrome, which left her deaf. Then when she got into her 20s, she started to lose her vision. She says her vision is like a tunnel that is slowly closing in.
In 2015, Joanne was 39-years-old, and cochlear implants were doing some life changing things for deaf people, so she decided to get one. When she did, the first thing that she heard was a nurse reading the days of the week. She said that turning on the switch was the most emotional experience of her life. Milne said that, at first, everyone sounded like robots, but she soon learned to recognize people’s voices as she built up a “voice library” in her head.
Milne says that she appreciates the little things about hearing, like being able to hear the clink of her fork against her plate when she eats, or hearing footsteps. Unfortunately, Milne is still going blind, and greatly appreciates her hearing. She is currently trying to see and imprint as much as she can into her memory, and she still feels very positive about life.
7. Opie Hughes
For many of us, colors are just something that make up how we see the world. However, 1-in-12 men and 1-in-200 women suffer from color blindness. Most people inflicted with color blindness see things as clearly as most people, but they have problems seeing red, green, and blue lights. In a few, incredibly rare cases, people can’t see any color at all. However, most people just have red/green color blindness. This impacts how people see red and green in all colors; for example, they mix up and blue and purple because they don’t see the red element that makes up purple.
This is what Opie Hughes of Erie, Pennsylvania, suffered from. Specifically, he had protanopia, which means he couldn’t detect red lights. While searching online, Opie’s girlfriend found a pair of glasses, made by a California company called EnChroma, that allowed some colorblind people to see the world in its true colors. The problem was that they were $350 and Opie couldn’t afford them. So with this knowledge, his sister Katherine set up a GoFundMe page. Through the campaign, she raised the money and bought the glasses for his birthday. To thank the donors, Katherine videotaped Opie wearing the glasses for the first time while he watched his children play. He quickly tears up as he looks at his children and, for the first time, sees the true color of their eyes. However, he also noticed that the car was dirty.
6. Sarah Churman
Sarah Churman was born in 1982, in Texas, with a rare genetic deformity that meant that she didn’t have the hair in the inner ear that transmits sound the brain. When she was two-years-old, she was given a hearing aid, but even then, her hearing was severely limited; she could only hear loud noises and some vibrations. A lot of times it was like listening underwater. Like many other deaf people, Sarah navigated through life by reading lips.
When hearing implants got to be good enough, Sarah’s family decided that she should get one. Unfortunately it cost $30,000, which is a heck of a lot of money for working class people like the Churmans. Nevertheless, they saved and borrowed money, with Sarah’s mother-in-law helping out a great deal. With enough money saved, Churman got the implants and in September 2011, she heard her own voice for the first time.
The video was taken by her husband, who recorded the video at the bidding of his mother. In the video, Sarah immediately starts crying when she realizes she can hear. She then turns to her speechless husband (an ironic time for him to have nothing to say) and says, “I don’t want to hear myself cry,” before laughing to herself.
After the video went viral, Churman wrote a book about her experiences, going from being deaf to gaining her hearing.
5. Nicolly Pereira
Shortly after Nicolly Perira was born, she was diagnosed with pediatric glaucoma, and as a result she couldn’t even see light. Over the next two years, Nicolly, who lives in Santa Catarina, Brazil, underwent seven surgeries to try to give her vision, but they all failed. Nicolly also appeared to be mentally delayed because she wouldn’t respond to sound, and she wasn’t yet walking.
Nicolly’s family had set up a Facebook page about her plight and her story went viral. A reader in Miami contacted the Jackson Health Foundation’s International Kids Fund and the Kevin Garcia Foundation, and they raised $17,000 for Nicolly to have surgery at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami. During an examination, they also discovered that Nicolly was deaf, but it was just being caused by a large fluid buildup. So over the course of a single day, Nicolly underwent a half hour procedure to fix her hearing and a three hour surgery to give her sight. Both procedures were a success, and in the video above you can see the first time Nicolly sees and hears her mother.
The procedures left Nicolly nearsighted, and her hearing seemed normal. By the time she left Miami, she was able to sing and stand on her own.
4. Jenri Rivera
In 2010, Erin Van Oordt, a registered nurse in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was doing some mission work in Guatemala. There, she met a young boy named Jenri Rivera, who was only about four at the time. Erin was touched by the little boy, who she found out was born deaf. When Erin returned home, she contacted the nonprofit Ray of Hope Medical Mission, who arranged for Jenri to come to Fort Wayne to get cochlear implants three years later. Also, $40,000 worth of equipment from Advanced Bionics was donated to Jenri.
The first sounds that Jenri heard was his family, when he talked to them over Skype. If you can stand to bear it (sorry, we can’t provide any tissues), the video of their first conversation was captured in the video above. After the surgery, Jenri stayed in Fort Wayne to work with doctors on how to cope and handle his hearing.
3. Grayson Clamp
Shortly after Nicole and Len Clamp of Charlotte, North Carolina, became foster parents to a seven-month-old boy named Grayson, they found out that he was completely deaf. Grayson had been born without cochlear nerves, which is what connects audio waves to the brain stem.
After the diagnosis, Nicole and Len were given the option to adopt Grayson and they chose to do so. Once they did, they had him fitted with a cochlear implant, but it didn’t work. So in 2013, Grayson, at the age of three, became the youngest person in America to receive an auditory brain stem implant.
After getting the implant, Grayson was recorded hearing for the first time, which you can see in the video above. In the video, when he hears his dad’s voice, he seems astonished and instantly looks and points in his direction. Five months after the implant, Grayson was progressing, but had a long way to go because he had to learn how each sound connects with its meaning.
2. Lachlan Lever
When Lachlan Lever of Victoria, Australia, was born in mid-2012, he was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe deafness. When he was seven months, he got a cochlear implant. Of course, Lachlan was so young he didn’t even realize he was deaf. But when the implant was turned on, Lachlan quickly figured out that something was new. He immediately smiles, and continues to do so any time he hears someone’s voice.
Two years later, the video was posted with an update stating that Lachlan is doing remarkably well.
1. Piper Verdusco
Around the time that Piper Verdusco was 10-months old, her parents became concerned because she wasn’t crawling. They took her to a pediatrician, who scheduled an eye exam. It turns out that little Piper was extremely far-sighted. To correct it, her parents got specialized pink glasses that were made in about a week. After picking up the glasses, Piper’s parents took her out to a restaurant, where her mother put the glasses on. At first, Piper struggles against the glasses, but the instant they fit over her eyes and she sees her mother for the first time, she beams. When her dad calls her name, her head immediately turns to him, and he, too, is greeted with a big smile.
On June 6, 2015, Piper’s mother uploaded the video and it quickly went viral. In just one month, the video was seen by 25 million people.