Most of us take it for granted, but today, two little Tulsa girls were able to hear for the very first time. Up until today, 7 year old Ruby and her sister Kate lived a life primarily in silence, able to communicate only through sign language.
A year ago, Al and Chris Shasteen brought them to Tulsa from an orphanage in Ethiopia. "Neither girl had developed speech at all it's safe to assume," says mother Chris. "And Ruby's hearing loss was profound and Kate's is severe to profound."
A couple weeks ago, cochlear implants were put in Ruby and Kate's ears in Oklahoma City. And today those small devices were activated for the first time at the Scholl Center in Tulsa. Here's the interaction between Ruby and her mother when that happened:
Chris: "Can you hear me? Can you? What's my name?"
Chris: "Can you hear me?"
Ruby: (nods yes)
Al Shasteen says one of the biggest goals now is trying to explain to the girls what they're experiencing and help them understand it. "That's really going to be a challenge," he says. "Help them catch up on eight years of not hearing, to hearing."
The Shasteens have seven children ... six of them adopted. Al and Chris say the other kids are very excited they'll be able to talk to Ruby and Kate now, and joke there will probably be so much chatter now that Ruby and Kate will want to turn off their implants.