When 15-year-old Morgan Kincaid and her teammates are racing across the soccer field, their long hair is swept up. Under Morgan’s flying ponytail, however, is something no one else has — surgically implanted cochlear implants that allow Morgan, who is deaf, to hear.
Soccer has been the Roncalli High School freshman’s passion since age 4: “It’s fun, and it allows me to connect with other people,” she says.
Connecting with other people would be far more difficult for Morgan without her implants. Following her birth in January 2000, she failed the newborn hearing test. Her parents, Todd and Michelle Kincaid of Indianapolis, took their first child to Riley Hospital, where they learned that she was profoundly deaf in both ears. They would not know until a few years later when Michelle was pregnant with their son Carter, that Morgan’s hearing impairment was genetic in origin.
The protocol for cochlear implants requires a child to try hearing aids first, which, in Morgan’s case, was paid for by the Indiana Lions Club. The hearing aids did not work for her (plus she kept trying to eat them), but “it was nice that the Lions Club provided them until she was eligible for the surgery,” Michelle says.
Morgan was only 10-1/2 months old when Riley Otolaryngologist Michael Fritsch, M.D., performed the cochlear implant on her right side, followed by the left at age 5. She wears a battery-powered device containing a microphone, speech processor and transmitter behind each ear. Receivers are secured in the bone beneath her skin. “You were an expensive baby,” Todd tells his daughter fondly.
The Kincaids credit a series of outstanding audiologists/speech therapists—Sheila Softich, Kathy Kessler and Kelly Lormore—who worked with Morgan until she was in kindergarten. “They are all the reason she hears so well and speaks so well,” Michelle says.
“For the most part, I don't think anybody treats me differently,” Morgan says. “We're not any different. Just because we're deaf doesn't mean we can't do whatever we want to do."