A 2-year-old Huntington Beach boy who was born deaf got to hear his mother's voice for the first time recently after receiving a cochlear implant.
When Ryan Aprea was born more than two months premature in March 2012, he weighed in at less than two pounds, according to a page on Spray Pal, a company run by his parents that makes a spray for cloth diapers. He spent seven months in the hospital's NICU.
Last month, Ryan received a cochlear implant that, upon activation, would allow him to hear. Although he's had it since November, the implant was only recently activated.
Cameras were there when it was turned on earlier this month at a low level and he was able to hear the voice of his mother, Jennifer Closson Aprea, for the first time.
The video, which was posted to YouTube last Friday, showed the tender, heartwarming moment. As Aprea spoke, little Ryan broke into a fit of giggles, clearly delighted at hearing her speak.
"We were prepared going into this that he might not respond at all, so hearing his giggle brought a relief to my heart that is hard to describe, but I'm sure many of you can imagine the joy," she wrote on the company's Facebook page. "Then when he did it time and time again... we really couldn't stop smiling along with him."
The family's story has received nationwide media attention, and as of Wednesday morning, the video had been viewed more than 97,000 times on YouTube.
Three days after the implant was activated, Aprea wrote on Facebook that Ryan was doing "phenomenally." She reported that he made more eye contact and had a greater interest in people, toys and exploration.