Van Raad, Andries

The joy of long forgotten sounds brought back to life

I was told that cochlear implants are useless – in reality the SCIC cochlear implant program has given me access to sounds I’d long forgotten.

Listening to 76-year-old Dutch-born Andries (Andrew) Van Raad tell his story is wonderful – he has a lot to be happy about. In 2011, not only did he celebrate 50 years as a hairdresser, but his hearing was also fully returned to him via a cochlear implant.

Andries’ journey began at age 35 when his hearing started to decline. With the support of his wife, Laraine, he began investigating the use of hearing aids. For a while, this appeared to be working, but was never ideal.

He managed to cope at work via lip-reading through the mirrors, yet it wasn’t until his hearing failed entirely in one ear that he sought a specialist’s opinion regarding cochlear implantation. His advice? That cochlear implants were “useless”, and that, at best, Andries would only hear sounds like Donald Duck!

Thankfully, Andries ignored this misguided advice and proceeded directly to SCIC – Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre where, after being accepted onto the candidacy program, he decided to go ahead and was implanted by Associate Professor Melville da Cruz in 2009.

Andries’ first implant was switched on by SCIC audiologist Monica Bray soon after. His joy at hearing speech clearly and “sounds long forgotten” for the first time in years cannot be underestimated.

And after his second, successful implant in early 2011 in his other ear, Andries remains extremely grateful for the chance to hear again – to listen to his loved ones, to enjoy music, and do all the other things we take for granted, such as talking on the telephone.

“Throughout my journey, the standard of care and concern from SCIC staff has been first-class.” as Andries says, “My family and I say, thank you, everyone at SCIC, for giving me back the ability to hear.”