Aug 2017 New York Daily News

After hearing the voice of her Army reservist father clearly for the first time, one of 14-month-old Theia Romaniecki’s first words was “Dada.” Doctors at NYU Langone Medical Center activated the infant’s cochlear implant Monday as her dad, Luke Romaniecki, watched via Skype, 6,000 miles away in Kuwait. “Hey Theia,” Romaniecki 37, said. “Hey, I’m here!” The baby with brown hair in a blue bow became so excited when her implant was activated that she tried climbing on a table.

She played with a green turtle doll. When her dad called her name, she turned and showed him the toy. Most touchingly, she said “Dada,” in response to her name — which she’d never heard in full.

“At least she can hear her name,” Romaniecki, of Kenilworth, N.J., said. “That’s the most important part; that she can actually hear the music and all the sounds around her like water or leaves.  That’s awesome.”

TheiaLaura Romaniecki, and daughter Theia, 14 months, speak to Army Sgt. Luke Lukasz via Skype as Lavin Entwisle, an audiology doctoral student, watches at the NYU Medical Center.

Doctors said that Theia had a form of progressive hearing loss that drastically limited her audition to vowels. Her mother, Laura Romaniecki, 39, was also thrilled the couple’s baby girl could hear her name. “It’s been tough knowing that she could only hear half of her name for 14 months,” the beaming mom said.

Dr. Janet Green of NYU Langone’s otolaryngology department gradually introduced Theia to various sounds. Green played sounds from small speakers around the room that lit up when emitting phonetic sounds. Theia then confirmed she could hear where the sounds came from.

Then Green turned on the processor so Theia could hear all sounds in the room. She let out a surprised scream and tugged at the device on her head. But she quickly got used to the sounds and became playful again. “The implant was a success,” Green said as she smiled.

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