The Family That Hears Together

Cochlear implants helped a mother-daughter duo hear each other clearly

The sounds of everyday life are music to the Horrell-Schmitz family's ears. Nichola Horrell-Schmitz and her 6-year-old daughter, Katrina, both received cochlear implants at the Midwest Ear Institute. "Now I can call my daughter from a distance," Nichola said, "and she turns around to respond to me."

Cochlear implants, which are surgically inserted into patients' ears, allow Nichola and Katrina to perceive sound by electrically stimulating the hearing nerve. The result is clear, crisp sound, rather than the muddled noise their hearing aids produced.

Sweet Sound of Life

Hundreds of patients turn to Saint Luke's Hospital's Midwest Ear Institute and its broad range of services each year to help improve their quality of life. It is one of the nation's leaders in cochlear implant technology, drawing patients from the Midwest to the Middle East. It is also a regional leader in testing for hearing disorders and ear-related balance disorders.

Katrina was fortunate to receive an implant at a young age and has developed auditory and verbal skills. Nichola enjoys environmental sounds and can't imagine life now without music.

"I didn't take the deaf world away from Katrina," Nichola said. "I gave her the hearing world. She can grow up able to succeed in both."

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Nichola & Katrina

"Now I can call my daughter from a distance and she turns around to respond to me."

Nichola Horrell-Schmitz with daughter Katrina after they received cochlear implants

How Your Gift Helps

Private donations to Midwest Ear Institute help enhance quality of life through comprehensive hearing services and promote community and professional education to relieve the isolation and misunderstanding caused by hearing disorders.