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Watch: iPhone gadget enables deaf mum to hear again after 20-years

Di Matthews has been practically deaf since her twenties. Photo: MEN Media

A mother who has been practically deaf since her twenties will finally able to hear her daughter’s voice properly - thanks to an incredible iPhone gadget trialled in Manchester.

Hearing loss and tinnitus has made Di Matthews’ life a ‘nightmare’ at times. But now the 41-year-old can control her hearing through Apple devices.

An implant embedded in her ear is connected to an innovation called the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor.

With time, the technology should not only enable her to pick up a greater range of sounds than she would with hearing aids, but also allow her to transmit phone calls and music to her brain through an iPhone or iPad.

The mum-of-one is one of the first people in the UK to test out the technology, which was trialled at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

She described the difficulty she's faced over the last 20-years.

“I remember going to the GP and him telling me I had a head cold”, she said. “It wasn’t until I went for an MRI that I found out I had nerve ending damage in my ears, and my hearing has gone gradually year on year since”, she said.

“I did have bilateral hearing aids, but day to day I still found it hard, and was restricted from doing so many things.

“Work became increasingly difficult - my employer has done as much as possible for me - but it got to the point where I was wondering if I could keep doing my job without an implant.

“I’d go to my daughter’s school assemblies, I couldn’t hear anything that was being said, but she could see me so she was happy.

“I can’t talk to her about school on the drive home because I can’t see her to lip read and the sound of the engine means I can’t hear. I struggle to have a full conversation with my husband, it’s little things like that I’ve missed out on.

“I shy away from phone calls and rely on emails, I can’t go to the pictures or theatre unless it’s subtitled or special viewing.”

– Di Matthews

Di’s implant was switched on on Thursday, but it will be several weeks before she notices a major difference.

Immediately after the switch on at the MRI, Di was able to hear some speech, but mainly a ‘morse code’ style sound which will become clearer in time as she adjusts to the pitches and tones.

She is also looking forward to finally being able to enjoy the music of her husband, Peter, a percussionist for Grimethorpe Colliery Band, which featured in the 1996 comedy Brassed Off.

Cochlear implants have been around for a while, making a dramatic difference to the lives of deafness sufferers.

What the new technology does is link to Apple devices - allowing users control through a smartphone, and enabling them to chat on the phone and listen to music more easily.

Ear implants aren’t removable without surgery. Instead of merely amplifying noises, like ordinary hearing aids, they send sound directly to the auditory nerve.

The implant which Di has been fitted with is made by Cochlear Ltd, connecting to an app that streams sounds to the brain.

The technology that makes it possible - the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor - was designed and made by Cochlear, in partnership with Apple, and is available to all patients eligible for an implant on the NHS and privately.