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When Steve Henning of Huntley, Illinois, was two years old, he contracted spinal meningitis. It was the winter of 1943, and because of World War II, doctors had a shortage of penicillin and could not provide Steve the treatment he needed. Sadly, he lost his hearing.

For 57 years, Steve could not hear music, laughter, or human speech. Even though he lived a full life, he still longed to hear the voices of those he loved.

In the winter of 2001, he learned of a surgical procedure that would allow sound waves to bypass the non-functioning part of his ear and travel directly to the auditory nerve. On January 30th he was operated on. Because the implanted device could not be activated until the swelling in the ear decreased, doctors and Steve didn’t know if the operation was successful for six weeks.

The day of reckoning came on a blustery spring day. Steve nervously wondered if the procedure had been in vain. As the audiologist programmed the cochlear implant, he invited Steve’s wife to say something. Pat Henning leaned toward her husband and gently said, "I love you." Able to hear for the first ...

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