Mafalda received her Baha® bone conduction implant at 12 years of age and has never looked back.
Mafalda is a bright, beautiful young woman who started her life with hearing loss. She was born completely deaf on her left side, and with a severe hearing loss in her right ear. In 2008, at 12 years of age, she received a Baha® bone conduction implant and has never looked back. Since then, Mafalda’s life has been transformed.
Young Mafalda’s hearing loss was so severe she had to rely on lip reading and passing written notes to get by. Her mother was the only person she really learnt to understand.
“I could hear people and I could hear them speak on TV - but I couldn’t understand what they were saying,” Mafalda recalls. “It was the same thing with music. I could sense the rhythm, but couldn’t quite follow the music.”
As her hearing loss gradually became worse, Mafalda had to give up one hobby after another, as lip reading became too difficult and she couldn’t communicate. She wasn't able to listen to music or use her mobile phone. Even interacting with family members was exhausting. Her mother had to explain every word her siblings were saying.
“When I started school, my teacher told everyone I had a hearing problem – and everyone in class made fun of me,” says Mafalda. “It was horrible, nothing I ever want to experience again.”
Her mother Conceição explains: “To most people, learning new words comes naturally – but Mafalda wasn’t learning because she couldn’t understand. At school, this proved to be a problem. The teacher had to speak clearly and slowly, which is difficult in a classroom.”
Since Mafalda couldn’t take part in or keep up with group conversations, she felt socially out of place. Both her social life and her grades were slipping.
A new life
When she finally had her Baha® sound processor fitted – “It was the start of a new life!” Mafalda exclaims. “I could hear people talking behind me in class. It was so loud, I even asked my teachers to put me in the back row! During breaks, I was amazed when I realised I was able to communicate in a group. Previously, I’d always hidden away in the library. I started making friends and became popular, instead of being teased all the time.”
Mafalda wasn’t the only one who benefited from her new hearing solution. Everybody around her noticed the change, especially her family. Meals together became more enjoyable, now that Mafalda could participate in the lively conversations without help.
“I go out in groups with my friends, and I take part in conversations with several people at the same time. And I can really appreciate music for the first time, like Beyoncé, my favourite singer.”
“We saw a big change in Mafalda, like night and day,” adds Conceição. “She's like a completely different person now. She understands what goes on in the classroom and her development has absolutely skyrocketed.”
Mafalda is very pleased with the progress she’s made at school. She recently scored 19 out of 20 in an oral examination which the teacher read out to the entire class – something that just wouldn’t have been possible before.
Some time ago Mafalda had an accident and broke her sound processor and had to go without it for a while. The experience of having her hearing taken away yet again was particularly hard.
“She told the doctor that she can’t imagine living without her sound processor now”, says Conceição. “That says everything. At home, the first thing she does – before she has breakfast, in her pyjamas - is to put her sound processor on, so she can communicate.”
She continues: “When Mafalda goes out with her sound processor on, she's like a normal child. She can hear the cars in traffic. It definitely means more freedom for her. It’s more than her ears – it’s her eyes!”
A life-changing experience
Mafalda enjoys socialising with her friends, just like a normal teenager. But she admits she wasn’t open to the idea of getting a bone conduction implant when it was first suggested. “I didn't want any hearing implant – even though I couldn’t hear,” she says. “I was afraid of what people would say. Now, I regret I ever said that because I realise how much I was missing out on.”
“Without my Baha sound processor, I wouldn't be able to hear people, my friends, or music. I would be sitting here not understanding what was being said, and I wouldn't even try. So I regret I ever said that I didn’t want it.”
“What I would like to say to people with a problem like mine, is that they should never let it become more important than their own personality, stopping them being the person they could become. Never. Letting that happen was the biggest mistake of my life. I’m a new person now, a funny and happy person. I’ve become very independent and take care of my own things, such as asking for information - or even complaining,” she smiles.
Mafalda concludes: “It’s been a crazy but rewarding experience that changed my life. I’ve had an excellent experience with the Baha system and would recommend it to anyone in my situation. Without a doubt."
Lives in: Viseu, Portugal
Hobbies: Scouting, shopping, spending time with my friends and siblings
Favorite sounds: The ocean, music, people's voices and fireworks
Please seek advice from your health professional about treatments for hearing loss. Outcomes may vary, and your health professional will advise you about the factors which could affect your outcome. Always read the instructions for use. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative for product information.