Deaf Woman Can Hear Again, Mother-In-Law Doesn't Know Ellen Is Planning Surprise On The Show

Mar 31, 2020 by apost team

It's likely that you don't completely appreciate your sense of hearing. You probably never think about those who are unable to hear or those who have some difficulty hearing. The sense is so second-nature to you that you likely never give it a passing thought. 

Until 2011, Sarah Churman, a wife and a mother from Texas, had no ability to hear. She was born deaf and had gone through nearly 30 years of life without hearing a single noise. She never got to hear her husband tell her that he loves her or hear her children speak.

Churman desperately longed to hear the sound of her children’s laughter and to hear the sounds of nature, such as a bird’s chirp or the ocean's crashing waves. When she discovered a new implant on the market, she knew that it was worth a try. Sadly, the new implant had a large price tag that was out of Churman’s budget.

The technology cost $30,000 per ear, and purchasing even just one was something that she was unable to afford. Even though she and her husband likely stayed up many nights trying to figure out how they could make things work, there was no way these implants were in their budget.

Their loved ones were aware of their financial status but were blown away by the kind gesture of one special person. Churman’s mother-in-law stepped in and decided that she wanted to help purchase one of these implants for her. She wanted to take money out of her retirement fund in order to purchase the technology so Churman would be able to hear her children speak and laugh.

As Churman’s mother-in-law explains on a 2011 episode of “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” “Sarah is the best daughter-in-law in the world. And when this device became available — I’m not wealthy at all — I cashed in a small retirement fund that I had.”

That lump sum was enough to cover one of Churman’s ears, but she and her family weren’t able to pay another $30,000 for the second implant.

Luckily, something amazing happened when DeGeneres learned of Churman’s story. In cooperation with the company that provided Churman’s hearing device, DeGeneres not only refunded the cost of the first implant, but she also wrote the family a check for $30,000 so that Churman could pay for the other ear.

As the audience cheered DeGeneres on, Churman broke down and shed tears of joy while her family surrounded her on stage.

Since her appearance on “Ellen,” she has gone on to write a book about her experience: “Powered On: The SOUNDS I choose to hear & the NOISE I don't,” which came out in 2012.

In the memoir, Churman documents her reaction to hearing for the first time after her implant.

“Sitting there in that chair, my mind was running a million miles a minute. A big part of me was absolutely terrified that for some odd reason, I'd be the first person that this device didn't work for. I have always stated, I believe that nothing in life is 100% guaranteed, so even though there was no reason for it to malfunction, I was worried,” Churman writes.

“And so it was a beep. The nicest, loudest, clearest beep ever. And it signaled a new life and opened a wellspring of emotions in me that had been building up for 29 years. The beep occurred, and then I heard the remote being set down on the counter and I was absolutely amazed and relieved all at the same time.”

Today, Churman continues to raise awareness about being deaf. In April 2021, she posted to Facebook, reminding her fans of the importance of closed captioning.

“I never whine or stomp my foot about stuff in regards to my ears. (I do that behind closed doors) But the day it became law for movie theaters to have #closedcaptioning devices available, was HUGE for me. It opened up a whole new world for me in the cinema,” Churman wrote.

According to a 2011 report based on federal data, around 2 to 4 of every 1,000 people are “functionally deaf” in the U.S., though that number is higher when it includes “people with severe hearing impairment.” Despite the United States’ larger deaf population, hearing aids remain too expensive for most.

“One of the biggest complaints that both deaf and hard of hearing people share is the high cost of hearing aids. Hearing-impaired people whose hearing losses are not severe enough for cochlear implants must use hearing aids. The problem is, hearing aids are not usually covered by health insurance plans while cochlear implants are," Jamie Berke writes for Verywell Health.

Hearing aids cost between $1,000 and $5,000, whereas cochlear implants — which some health insurance providers cover — are between $30,000 and $50,0000 on average.

What do you think about Churman’s story? Do you think health insurance should cover the cost of hearing aids and cochlear implants? Let us know — and be sure to pass this uplifting story on to others.

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