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The small device that helped a deaf woman hear for the first time in 40 years

A cochlear implant transmits signals to the brain, enabling deaf people to hear sounds. Photo: AAP AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATED PRESS/AAP/Press Association Images

A video of 40-year-old Joanne Milne hearing for the very first time has gone viral, and it is all thanks to a small device fitted on to her ear.

Although Joanne had worn hearing aids before, it was only with a cochlear implant that she was able to hear properly for the first time.

A diagram from a manufacturer showing how a cochlear implant works Credit: Cochlear Ltd

She said she was overcome with emotion when the implants were first switched on:

The switch-on was the most emotional and overwhelming experience of my life and I'm still in shock now.

The first day everybody sounded robotic and I have to learn to recognise what these sounds are as I build a sound library in my brain.

Hearing things for the first time is so, so emotional, from the ping of a light switch to running water. I can't stop crying.

I can already foresee how it's going to be life changing and the implants will get better and better over time, I'm so, so happy.

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