THE WOODLANDS (CBSDFW.COM) – The nine million people who have watched a Burleson woman’s first moment of true hearing on an internet viral video has been multiplied by six.
It happened in just one week.
Sarah Churman’s raw, emotional reaction to her hearing implant being activated was attention grabbing by itself six months ago. Now it’s featured prominently at the beginning of “Kony 2012,” a video that has been watched more than 50-million times in its first week online.
The exposure comes during another life-changing moment for Churman. Thursday she returned to the Envoy Medical clinic in The Woodlands, near Houston. A second device doctors implanted in her right ear in January was activated, the same way the first one was in September.
It was a much different scene than the first time, when it was just her, her husband Sloane, and a technician.
Between her friend, a CBS11 crew and a documentary film crew, at least six cameras were trained on Churman to capture the moment. It was less emotional, but no less stunning.
“Can you tell?” the technician asked as the Envoy Esteem was turned on.
After a brief pause, Churman reacted. “Oh! When you started speaking—I was like, ok, oh that’s weird. I don’t know how to explain it.”
There was no crying this time, just a big smile. After a few tweaks and adjustments, Churman headed outside to test out surround sound for the first time in her life. “Is that wind or traffic I’m hearing,” she asked, standing in a parking lot outside the clinic.
Churman is now one of only about 20 people in the world who have two devices implanted. The Esteem doesn’t provide sound through a speaker like a hearing aid. Instead it physically stimulates the natural hearing bones in the patient’s ear, using them to in turn create natural sound signals that are sent to the brain.
Churman said she didn’t even know what stereo sound meant. She had to look it up on the internet. “I still have trouble with like, what direction did that come from?” she said. “Everyone’s like ‘no, when you get your other ear, you’ll know what direction it comes from.’”
Envoy credits the Churmans with increasing acceptance of the Esteem by insurance companies. She recorded a new video Thursday as a thank you to the millions of people who wished her well in the last six months.
She is considering writing a book about the experience.
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