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The first child cochlear implant recipient was from Dorset
by Jackie Ballard

In 1993 Katie Ballard was the first British child born deaf to receive a Cochlear Implant. At the time the operation made front page news and the family also appeared on national television. Katie grew up in Wimborne and has since been travelling the world. Jackie, Katie’s mum, talks about her experience.

What a fabulous thing a cochlear implant is, from thinking that Katie wouldn’t talk at all it is now difficult to keep her quiet! After 6 months assessment she had her implant just after her 3rd birthday. It was very difficult making the decision for her to have it as they couldn’t really tell us how much benefit she would get out of it and they had to tell us about what could go wrong. But we knew she had no residual hearing and had been fitted with powerful hearing aids from 8 months old so we made the decision it was a chance worth taking.

The operation was long but she was out of hospital 3 days later and 2 weeks later we went to Southampton for switch on, Peter wanted to be the first voice she heard but she just burst into tears and pulled the processor off! After many sessions with the amazing staff at Southampton and Beverley Bell and us explaining to her what each noise was the best time for me was when we were sitting together on the settee and the doorbell rang and she went running to it. It was difficult to explain to people that she had to learn what each noise was.

Fast forward many years and she has grown into an amazing young woman.  She went to Hawaii at aged 16 to represent England on a lions visit with many others from across the world, many thanks again for the contribution from DDCS towards her trip. She got herself a job in Australia aged 19 as an outdoor instructor, has worked in and visited many countries across Europe and has also worked in this country looking after autistic children. She took years off my life when she travelled across Asia on a motorbike and she has recently just come back from nine months working in New Zealand.


I know all parents are proud of their kids but Katie has achieved so much and has a very positive attitude and I think that the implant is a real miracle!

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