Henry Rivera hears for the first time

7:27 PM, Sep 25, 2013   |    comments
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By Jessica Hawila

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE/CNN) - A young Guatemalan boy born deaf can now hear, and it's all thanks to a missionary who brought him to America.

Something amazing happened to 7-year-old Henry Rivera on Monday. WANE-TV was there as he heard his mother's voice for the first time.

Henry made sure everyone in the room knew he could hear Dr. Tina Sheehan's hand smacking the table, and not every noise was welcomed.

He came to America and received his life changing operation after Erin Van Oordt of Grand Rapids, Mich. met him on a mission trip to Guatemala. Erin's next mission became giving Henry the gift of hearing.

"There was something special about him from the beginning. I started talking to him, but he couldn't hear me. And I knew my Spanish wasn't that bad, so I started asking around and they said 'Well, he hasn't heard since he was little,' but no one had known why, they hadn't done any test. So I was like 'Okay, we need to figure this out.' And that's when we started the whole process," she said.

Erin received help to get the process started from Ray of Hope Medical Missions, a not-for-profit group in Fort Wayne.

"A couple of local doctors here had worked with Ray of Hope and they had contacted me. I had one phone call with Erin and I was on board," said Rebecca Ghent, founder of Ray of Hope Medical Missions.

The $40,000 equipment was donated by Advanced Bionics and the procedure was performed by Dr. Disher at Lutheran Hospital. Little Henry heard his family for the first time. His family, in tears at the news.

"They said their very content and that she's about ready to ball her eyes out, basically," said Van Oordt.

Henry has at least several more months in America as he works on his speech and learns to understand what he hears. The journey may not be over, but Van Oordt couldn't be happier with where it was today.

"I had a flashback to the first time I met him, when he couldn't hear me, and he could this time. So, everything we've done in the past three years came flooding back. It was all worth it," said Van Oordt.


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