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Cochlear Implants in Children: Ethics and Choices

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At another point in the interview, however, the following exchange took place.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think the [implant center] was advertising their successes too much and not giving you a really objective picture of what to expect?

MOTHER and FATHER (together): Yes.

INTERVIEWER: I wonder if their emphasis on the success stories is making it more difficult for parents whose kids are not quite at that level.

MOTHER: Oh, absolutely.

FATHER: Absolutely, that’s what we felt . . . . Because of [the implant center] talking about the success stories, we came very close to saying we made the wrong decision . . . . I do not think we made the wrong decision, but I sure wish we had a little bit more information at the very beginning. I think we still would have gone with the implant, but I think we would have made a few more right moves along the way.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think the [implant center] has changed its approach a little bit . . . their approach to parents?

MOTHER: Yes . . . they’ve definitely modified [their approach] because I met another mother whose son was trying to be in the candidacy program to get the implant and they wouldn’t accept him because he didn’t have enough communication.

Parents of the same 4-year old boy

Although most of the parents said that the implant center they dealt with was even-handed in its approach, and that they felt comfortable with the process, a few parents perceived some pressure or encouragement from the implant center to get the device for their child.

MOTHER: The medical community acted like, almost, we almost felt as though we would be neglecting him if we didn’t follow through on the cochlear implant. It was really presented to us as a gift from God: Why wouldn’t you do this for your child? Do you know how horrible it is to be deaf? We were given absolutely no negative information about it at all except for the fact that he would need surgery and general anesthesia.

INTERVIEWER: This was at the [implant center]?


Mother of an unimplanted boy

I’m going to say that [the implant center] was the one who handed out the literature, both sides of it, so that we would be able to read and make the decision on our own. But they were like our parents, they were wanting to get it done, pretty much. You really wanted to think that they were looking towards his welfare, but . . . .”

Father of a 16-year-old boy implanted in 1995

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