Usher syndrome is a rare and incurable genetic disorder that 40-year-old Jo Milne has lived with her entire life.
Though the condition can cause both deafness and blindness, it’s the former that Jo has been encumbered with since birth. With new cochlear implants, Jo can finally hear for the first time in her life, and her reaction to experiencing sound is absolutely priceless.
The video above, posted to YouTube by Jo’s friend Tremayne Crossley, shows what hearing for the first time after 40 years of living with Usher’s syndrome looks like, and has gone viral with nearly 400,000 views.
Crossley also put together an “Introduction to Music” playlist for Jo, which included Prince, Bruce Springsteen, The Smiths, and Nirvana. The first song she ever heard in her life was John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
Living with sound has been more than just “high pitched,” as she notes in the video. After her implants were switched on, she knew life would never be the same.
“The switch-on was the most emotional and overwhelming experience of my life and I’m still in shock now. I have to learn to recognise what these sounds are as I build a sound library in my brain,” she told The Journal UK. “Hearing things for the first time is so emotional from the ping of a light switch to running water. I can’t stop crying and I can already foresee how it’s going to be life changing.”
Hearing the voices of her friends and family has been a unique experience, as well.
“I’m so happy. Over the last 48 hours hearing someone laughing behind me, the birds twittering and just being with friends… they didn’t have to tap my arm to get my attention which a massive leap.”
You can read more about Usher syndrome at the NIDCD.