Pass Christian woman gets the gift of sound through Miracle Ear Foundation

Thanks to cutting-edge technology and the Miracle Ear Foundation, Riley has a new life.
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 6:56 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Libby Riley has never been able to hear out of her right ear, since a fever destroyed the nerves in her ear when she was 2 months old.

Just three months ago, she began having major problems with her left ear, until now.

Thanks to cutting edge technology and the Miracle Ear Foundation, Riley has a new life.

“It’s been a struggle, not to be able to hear birds or animals or cars passing as clear as other people,” she said through tears. “It’s a shock to hear it. I guess it’s like seeing again for the first time with glasses.”

The technology, which came out last year, has a dual purpose. It transmits sounds from her right side to her left side and strengthens her left ear at the same time.

“Eventually, because of the slight delay, and because of a slight change in frequency, her brain is actually going to be able to start recognizing which direction the sound is coming from,” said Miracle Ear licensed hearing specialist Phil Sturtevant.

“Now, I can hear on this side and I can hear clearer on this side,” Riley said. “It’s been a while. It’s been a long time.”

Her struggles have been numerous.

“It’s been hard because I always had to get pushed to the front of the class,” she said. “And a lot of I couldn’t hear, I’d just walk away from people. I repeat myself.”

Despite her struggles, Riley became a Certified Nursing Assistant and now works in a specialized treatment facility for vulnerable youth.

Her mother, Orelia Stallings, knew first-hand the difficulties Riley experienced, and now there’s some relief.

“I’m just glad, I’m just happy. I’m just so happy for my baby,” she said. “I’m going to see the changes I know it. It’s going to be beautiful. Wonderful.”

It’s wonderful for those who provide the help as well.

“It’s one of the reasons why I’m in this industry,” Sturtevant said. “Because it’s an amazing feeling to get to see someone hear for the very first time.”

The foundation started in 1990 and last year fit 34,000 hearing aids on 18,000 patients who would not have otherwise been able to have them.

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