When the Russias invaded Ukraine last year, Oleh Kuzmin, his wife Diana Kuzmina, and their two children, six-year-old Filip and his two-year-old sister Zlata left everything behind in Odessa for a new life in the U.S. They didn’t just hope for a better life, but also wanted medical care for Zlata, who they believed was completely deaf.
After settling in Boiling Springs, South Carolina, they met Dr. Teddy McRackan, a cochlear implant specialist. He confirmed that Zlata was deaf in her left ear, but he saw a glimmer of hope in her right ear. In mid-March, McRackan and his team surgically placed a cochlear implant in Zlata's right ear at the Medical University of South Carolina Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital. The surgery aimed to give Zlata "the best chance possible when it comes to having a kind of auditory hearing."
The family waited a month for the incision to heal before the device could be turned on to determine the procedure's success. Last month, the cochlear implant was finally activated, and Zlata could hear, marking an emotional moment for her parents. Although she’s not cured of deafness, the little girl can now hear with the device attached to her head and the implant. Her mother hopes that she’ll eventually be able to understand her family's words and songs — "and I hope she will sing with us."