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Our William got cochlear implants

Published Date: 02 May 2024

“I think we need to talk about William’s life after hearing aids,” was the last thing we were expecting to hear from the audiologist at a routine appointment in December 2022, as she dispiritedly pulled her chair closer to us. I tried to take in as much as I could as she told us that William’s hearing had deteriorated further, and he’d reached the point where his lifeline to the hearing world could no longer help him.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Our usually happy and cheeky five-year-old had become increasingly withdrawn and unable to fully communicate or express his feelings to us, his friends, his teachers – and we didn’t know why. Looking back now, I think we wanted to blame everything expect the inevitable.

The audiologist handed us a leaflet about cochlear implants, and that was the moment that William’s new journey started. In September 2023, after nine months of what seemed like endless appointments, questions, and doubts, William had his surgery.

We were warned not to expect miracles. There was a one-month wait for the swelling and scarring to go down until the cochlear receiver could be switched on for the first time, and only then would we know whether the procedure had been a success. It’s not like the carefully directed YouTube videos you see where the device gets turned on and it’s happily ever after. It took time and perseverance – but it was the beginning of a new journey for William, a new adventure, and a new connection with the hearing world.

One thing we’ve noticed over the past six years is that deaf children are extremely resilient. There’s never a challenge or an obstacle or an impossibility – there’s just a different way of doing things. When the green lights on William’s cochlear implants lit up for the first time, that not only confirmed the successful connection between the receiver and the implant, but it also signified the return of ‘our William’.

In October, William was lucky enough to be invited to Stamford Bridge as part of the Cadbury Fingers ‘Sign with Fingers’ campaign run in partnership with the National Deaf Children’s Society and Chelsea FC. He got to lead out the Chelsea team as mascot in front of nearly 40,000 fans. William loved the cheering crowds, the fireworks, the music, the chanting – all those experiences and sound he’d started to lose not that long before. To see the pure look of joy on his face, we knew that the decision we’d taken to have him implanted was the right one.


Tom and his wife Leah are parents to William (6) and Joseph (3). William is profoundly deaf and has cochlear implants.