For anyone deciding whether to get a cochlear implant, Adrienne Lovette and her son, Kamari, give their resounding support with two simple words: “Do it!”
Kamari is an energetic, rising ninth grader who loves spending time with friends and family, and playing football and basketball. As a middle school student, Kamari played on Live Oak’s Florida Rain football travel team, and, in just a few short months, Kamari will join the Suwannee High School team.
Despite being diagnosed with hearing loss at an early age, Kamari, now 13, lives the typical life of a teenager thanks to a special device working inside his left ear. Kamari received a cochlear implant on June 2022 that has dramatically improved his hearing and quality of life.
Kamari was diagnosed with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss as a 3-year-old. As he began wearing hearing aids, Adrienne worked diligently to keep Kamari’s day-to-day routine as typical as possible. He found his passion for sports at age 5, adapting to the world around him by learning to read lips, concentrating on finding even the faintest of noises he could hear and learning American Sign Language.
A common misconception about bilateral sensorineural hearing loss is the belief that people who have it cannot hear at all. Kamari could always hear some frequencies but not all. There always seemed to be a disconnect between Kamari and what was going on around him.
At his annual hearing appointment at UF Health last year, Kamari’s physicians found that he had lost more of his hearing. Adrienne was upset because Kamari had learned so much and lived such a typical life, but now she feared his challenges would grow. The good news was that because of Kamari’s hearing loss, he was a perfect candidate for a cochlear implant, a small electronic hearing device surgically implanted in the ear.
Together, Kamari and his mom discussed whether to move forward with the procedure. Adrienne told her son the choice was his. When Kamari asked if he would still be able to participate in sports after the surgery, she explained that she had already done research into special helmets and safety equipment that would allow him to continue doing what he loved.
The decision was made for Kamari to get the implant, with the surgery performed by Si Chen, MD.
“It is an honor to be able to offer cochlear implant surgery to patients with hearing loss. It’s particularly special to me to be involved and watch a child grow through his hearing-rehabilitation journey. Kamari's enthusiasm for sports and life is so contagious,” Dr. Chen said. “We have a great cochlear implant team to support him and cheer him on, just like he has with his mom and football team.”
A month after it was implanted, the device was activated. This was a special moment, as Kamari was about to hear through his left ear for the first time. Physicians suggested that the first voice he should hear be a familiar one. Without a doubt, Adrienne was there to do the honors. The video was popular in a Facebook group of parents whose children have hearing loss. Kamari’s story became an inspiration. In the video, viewers can see Kamari reacting to hearing himself taking a breath for the first time, to his excitement from simply hearing his hand brush up against his shirt, saying in disbelief, “Oh my God! How is that even possible?”
Today, Kamari and Adrienne are thankful for the cochlear implant.
Adrienne says the ability to hear has given her son a wealth of new experiences.
“The sound of his skin brushing against his shirt or his breath leaving his body on a deep exhale are all things Kamari has grown to appreciate immensely,” Adrienne said.
Parents interested in learning more options for their child’s hearing loss should call UF Health ENT and Allergy – The Oaks location at (352) 265-9465.