Touching moment Aussie boy, 3, hears mum for the first time

Nate McKenna was able to hear his parents' voices for the first time with clarity this week.

Nate looks surprised as the first sound is made (left) and breaks out into a wide smile as he hears with his 'new ears' (middle) while his mum Tessa watches on (right).
In the footage, Nate McKenna, 3, hears with his 'new ears' for the first time after getting cochlear implants in Adelaide. Source: Supplied

It's something many of us take for granted but this week, in a hospital room in Adelaide, a young boy heard clear voices for the first time after getting cochlear implants. And for three-year-old Nate, the first voices he heard belonged to his parents.

"He likes watching the video too, he gets a big grin on his face, it's adorable," mum Tessa McKenna told Yahoo News. "It would have been the first time he recognised it was myself and my husband talking."

In the footage Nate, with his feet dangling from his chair, has his "new ears" turned on while his parents speak to him. His face lights up when he hears the sound before he quickly turns coy as everyone in the room celebrates, pulling his mum closer.

"Because of his hearing loss he is very attached to me, he knows I can understand him and help him communicate and when he's not with me, he obviously feels like he can't," Tessa said.

Parents had to fight for hearing test after his speech deteriorated

Nate was born with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss which limited his natural hearing ability before it further deteriorated last year, with his family noticing after his speech started to "drop off".

"He wasn't deaf, he could hear sounds, but we came to the conclusion that there was no clarity because he wasn't developing his speech... some of his words, they kind of dropped off," Tessa said.

Despite his parents pushing for a specialist appointment and another hearing test, it was only thanks to a cancellation that the family were able to get a hearing re-evaluation test for Nate. He later underwent surgery, which removed all of his remaining natural hearing, before he got his new implants.

The family of six pose for a picture (left) and Nate lies in bed with bandages around his head after surgery (right).
Tessa and Ty McKenna with their four children continue to travel between Adelaide and their hometown Kyancutta so Nate can get treatment. Source: Supplied

Tessa and her partner Ty live in Kyancutta — a small town seven hours from Adelaide — with their four young children aged under six. Thanks to Angel Flight, a charity which coordinates non-emergency flights for those requiring specialist medical treatments, it is likely Nate will be able to develop his speech fully and be able to hear as an adult, with the help of extensive therapy.

"I love the quote, 'while we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about," Tessa said, pointing to her experience with Nate's health journey. "It was mind-blowing to watch him."

"His resilience has been incredible, I am just beyond proud of him really."

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