HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA.com) — The joy was so overwhelming that Jennifer Aprea and her husband Dave shared it online, and the video of their 2-year-old son Ryan hearing for the first time went viral.
"It was awesome. I think people just like to see an innocent child being happy," Dave said.
Ryan, who was born prematurely at just 25-weeks-old, suffered from major medical issues.
He was fed through a tube in his stomach, his vision was severely impaired, and he couldn't hear.
While fighting to stay alive, the toddler caught a break through receiving a cochlear implant.
"He's survived and overcome everything that he's been given in life, and if this can work for him and help him hear, it's a miracle," Jennifer said.
From thousands to hundreds of thousands, the video is taking off, just like Ryan, who's getting used to this new world of activities and sounds. The implant surgery in the inner ear was a success, but no one knew what would happen when the device was activated weeks later.
"We went into it thinking he might not have a response," Jennifer said. "So, when he started laughing, I was like 'Is this for real?' We would turn it off and turn it back on again, and he would laugh again."
"He had such a consistent response with his giggling so that's when we knew he's absolutely hearing us," UCLA audiologist Arineh Khachatoorians said.
The Apreas were shocked so many people saw the video and loved it, so they invited CBS2 for the second visit, during which the implant would be turned up a little bit more.
"We have tons of toys and they make sounds, and it didn't matter if the batteries were loaded up," Dave said. "But now it matters."
Ryan's parents run a business that helps support their son's medical expenses.
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