Sarasota Baby Youngest Patient Ever to Receive Cochlear Implant at SMH

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At just 9 months old, Eli Tovar Urzua might have been one of the youngest patients ever to receive a cochlear implant. Born deaf to hearing parents Nancy Urzua-Alba and Jesus Tovar, the Sarasota baby qualified for the advanced medical device when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lowered the age of pediatric cochlear implantation this past March to 9 months for children with bilateral, profound sensorineural hearing loss. 

"Taking people from the world of deafness and putting them back in the world of the hearing is huge," Dr. Wazen stressed. "It¹s huge for your life, for your communication, for your education, for your career."

Sharon Rende, AuD, director of Audiology at the Silverstein Institute, will spend the coming months working with Eli to ensure his implants are adjusted to an optimal level. She also was the one to activate the device and be part of the milestone moment Eli heard his mother¹s voice for the first time, telling him softly, "Hi Buddy, I love you, I love you."

"For me it's emotional every time," Rende said. "It's new and exciting and just wonderful. It's the beginning of a change in his life, a beginning of his life as a hearing child."

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