Fort Wayne, IN (CBS/WANE) -- Henry Rivera, 7, from Guatemala heard his first noise Monday afternoon in Fort Wayne after receiving a cochlear implant: the sound of his mother's voice.
The story started three years ago when Erin Van Oordt of Grand Rapids Michigan met Henry on a mission trip to Guatemala. Erin's next mission became giving Henry the gift of hearing. She says, "There was something special about him from the beginning. I started talking to him, and he couldn't hear me. I knew my Spanish wasn't that bad, so I started asking around and they said he hasn't heard since he was little. I said we need to figure this out, and that's when we started the whole process."
Erin received help to get the process started from Ray of Hope Medical Missions, a not-for-profit group in Fort Wayne. Van Oordt says, "A couple of local doctors here had worked with Ray of Hope and they contacted me. I had one phone call with Erin and I was on board."
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.
Henry has at least several more months in America as he works on his speech and learns to understnad what he hears. The journey may not be over, but Erin couldn't be happier with where it was today. She says, "I had a flashback to the first time I met him, when he couldn't hear me, and he could this time. Everything we've done in the past three years came flooding back. It was all worth it."