We take so many things for granted in our lives. Our sight, mobility, our hearing. And you don’t realise how truly lucky you are until you hear a story like Eimhear Collins’.
Eimhear started to lose her hearing gradually and then completely lost the ability to hear after a flight to Tanzania. The mum-of-three never got the chance to hear her three sons, Nick, Eoghan and Annraoi speak. She felt isolated and lonely as she suffered from depression due to hearing loss for a huge amount of her life.
That is until she met Professor Laura Viani, the woman who gave her a new lease of life.
Prof Viani, a fellow of RCSI and a member of the RCSI Council, opened Ireland’s first cochlear implant clinic in Dublin in 1994 and completed the country’s first cochlear implant surgery in March 1995.
When Eimhear found out about Professor Viani’s incredible work she finally felt hopeful about her future.
“I felt full of hope when I heard about Prof Laura Viani’s work and the future did not seem as bleak and lonely as before.”
The road to regaining her hearing was long and involved a lot of hospital appointments and tests, but Professor Viani and her incredible team made it all easier for Eimhear.
“It went very smoothly thanks to the warmth and support I received from the Cochlear Implant Team at Beaumont.”
After her Cochlear implant, it was time to return home to start a brand new chapter of her life.
Eimhear’s family were obviously delighted by the news but understandably cautious. Their entire lives were about to change.
“The day I came home from switch on, my son, Eoghan came home from college and sat down beside me. He was quite overwhelmed and shy when I told him I was able to hear him, and at that moment he was too shy to say anything. This was understandable as I had never been able to hear them before, so I was like a new person.
“Initially they were quite shy about having a conversation with me. It took a little while before we all became comfortable with each other. Our relationship has strengthened and blossomed enormously. I missed out a lot on my three sons lives due to my deafness and we really enjoy chatting to each other and catching up on lost time,” the mum shared.
Switch on was one of the most emotional moments for Eimhear. She couldn’t believe that she could hear again after decades of being in her own world, “I was incredulous that I could actually hear and was part of the hearing world again. All the loneliness of the past 20 years dissipated. I was no longer in my own little world and was able to engage meaningfully with others.
“There is nothing in the world so comforting / beautiful as the sound of another person’s voice.”
“I will be forever indebted to Prof Viani for the gift of hearing. Prof Viani and her team have had a hugely positive and uplifting impact on my life, and given me the confidence to do things that I have never done before.”
Hearing her husband and sons was obviously one of the biggest moments for Eimhear, but there are little things she is eternally grateful for.
The seascape/landscape photographer explained the joy of spending time outside and being able to hear what’s around her, “It is such a joy to be able to hear the waves crashing at the shoreline, the trees rustling in the wind and birdsong. Thanks to the gift of hearing, my affinity with nature is stronger than ever before and I feel this is reflected in my work.”
Over the last 25 years, Prof Viani built up a small RCSI-based clinic of two into a team of 30 medical specialists and clinical support experts spread across multiple Irish hospitals, whose knowledge and skills put Ireland’s cochlear implant programme on par with the UK and other major international countries.
Pioneering Irish ENT surgeon, Professor Laura Viani was honoured with the international Cpl World-Class Talent Award on September 19.