A happy coincidence for Irish tot with cochlear implants

cochlear implant
Roisin and her cousin Mia enjoying a day at the park

Editor’s note: The thing about clichés is sometime they are just spot on. “It’s small world after all,” sprung to mind when I heard about how hearing-restoration researcher Jeffrey Holt, PhD, met Roisin Morgan, an Irish toddler with hearing loss, on an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Boston. Read Holt’s recount of their meeting, and watch the reunion video.

On Dec. 16, 2015, as I boarded my flight from Dublin to Boston, there was a family with a three-year-old daughter. I noticed the little girl had bilateral cochlear implants.

As the family made their way to their seats, I noticed one implant had become dislodged and was dangling from the little girl’s ear. But it was a crowded plane, and before I could intervene, they were whisked away among a crowd of busy holiday travelers, anxious to be on their way.

Five minutes later, a voice came over the airplane public announcement system and announced a passenger had lost a hearing device and asked other passengers to keep an eye out for the missing device.

Of course, I immediately recognized who the owner of the missing device must be. I jumped up from my seat to join the flight attendants in the search.

While most passengers were looking on the ground, I realized the device includes a magnet that usually helps to secure it to the scalp. So, I began looking at metal objects at about the height of a three-year-old. It took another 10 minutes, but we finally found the device stuck to the side of a metal seat post.

The mom of the little girl was quite relieved. She was very grateful and thanked me profusely. She went on to say that her daughter’s hearing devices were very expensive, but they are worth it because they make such a difference for her daughter.

cochlear implants
Roisin, Mom and Jeffrey Holt

I explained that I understood completely, because I am a scientist studying genetic hearing loss in the Otolaryngology Department at Boston Children’s Hospital.

To this she exclaimed, “Oh, my gosh. We love Boston Children’s. We live in Dublin but came to Boston for the surgery. Dr. Greg Licameli did both my daughter’s implants.  He is the best!”

I could see happy tears welling up in her eyes.

I know helping patients is routine work for Boston Children’s otolaryngology faculty, nurses and staff. But after meeting this family, I felt renewed pride in being part of such a wonderful department and hospital. And after spending the past 15 years of my career trying to figure out how to help patients with hearing loss, I was happy to be able to help out in a different way.


Learn more about the Boston Children’s Cochlear Implant Program.