BURLESON (CBS 11 NEWS) – Most people don’t like the odd, out of place, sound of their own voice when they hear it. When North Texan Sarah Churman first heard her voice the sound gave way to a raw, tearful flood of emotion.
The tearful response came when a surgically implanted prosthetic behind Sarah’s left ear was turned on, after 29 years of her having a 75 to 95-percent hearing impairment.
The moment, videotaped by her husband, turned into an internet hit that’s been viewed more than 6,000,000 on YouTube.
“[I] didn’t have any thought as to how it was going to sound or what it would feel like or anything,” Sarah told CBS 11 News. “So it was just completely overwhelming just to talk and hear it.”
On Friday the Churmans had just returned to Burleson after a whirlwind tour to New York and Los Angeles – filled with interviews on national talk shows.
Sarah’s husband, Sloane, shot the video of his wife with the intent of just sharing it with friends and family. They had trouble emailing the clip though, so they posted it to YouTube and linked to it on Facebook.
“We had gotten like 26, 28 emails, and we were like, this is incredible, you know, cause we had never dreamed,” Sloane said.
♦♦♦ Watch the YouTube video below of Sarah hearing her voice for the first time ♦♦♦
In the video Sarah reacts to hearing herself laugh.
It’s been a week since Sarah’s prosthetic has been on and she said she is enjoying things like the sound of eating a crouton in a salad, the rain hitting their roof, and the un-muffled voices of her 4-year-old and 20-month-old daughters.
Her children were part of the reason the Churman family decided to push to get the technology.
“Your heart breaks almost all the time because you’re having to interpret,” Sloane said. “You know what it’s like for them to live not being able to hear.”
Sarah’s implant cost the Churmans about $30,000 and was not covered by insurance.
But they nabbed a loan from family members.
After all the notoriety though, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres convinced Envoy Medical to not only refund the Churman’s costs, but provide another implant on her right ear for free.
Now the family is on a push to encourage insurance companies to find ways to help cover the extreme costs.
Sloan Churman said they have even considered starting a non-profit organization if health insurance providers don’t come through.
“Our number one goal is to shed so much light on this project, shout it from the roof tops that insurance companies do step up from either social pressure or just thinking hey this is a fantastic thing.”