June 2018 Inside Edition
Little Kavya was sitting on her mom's lap, shortly after undergoing a double cochlear implant procedure, when she suddenly heard the woman's voice for the first time — and the girl's reaction is warming hearts across the country. Kavya, who had profound to full hearing loss, was adopted about nine months ago by Nemili Johnson and her husband, who were unsure whether their daughter would be eligible for the implants. “My husband and I both took an ASL course so that we would be ready to help communicate with her in whatever avenue we could.” Johnson said Kavya had hearing aids at the time of adoption, but she could barely hear the voices of her new parents. So, the couple put their ASL lessons to use and paired their voices with a little bit of sign language, signing and speaking words like "mama" and "papa."
Not long after the adoption was finalised, Kavya’s ability with the hearing aids plateaued, and that's when they turned to Nationwide Children’s Hospital for help. "The audiology department at Nationwide really helped us to move forward through the insurance process to getting the cochlear procedure done in January of 2018," Johnson said. The implants were activated in February, and in a video posted to Facebook by Nationwide Children’s Hospital Tuesday in honour of Better Hearing and Speech Month (May), a bright smile lit up Kavya’s face when she turned around to face her mom after hearing her name.
After asking her, "What are you doing?" Kavya turned around again with the powerful response, "I love you. We had no idea that she would say that, but it’s so fun to hear that as clearly as it was because my husband had been practicing with her in the mirror," Johnson explained. “Sort of yelling at the mirror so that she could see the mouth movements and that’s how we first taught her 'I love you.’" Johnson said it was a very special time for them. "She does say that she loves us in the video and that was a magical moment for us," she said.
The video has since been viewed about 15,000 times. Although she has a long way to go, Johnson said Kavya is thriving and flourishing, adding that the family is thankful for the audiology and ENT department at Nationwide for helping Kavya get to this point. "She has so much backing and so many folks that are just pulling for her. It’s just been tremendous to have that support."