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Miracles across the globe

Zlata Kuzmina was diagnosed as deaf at 6 months old with no help possible. She is now a joyful and animated 3-year-old who recently graduated from SCSDB’s Kelly’s Kids program. 

Her family came to Upstate South Carolina in search of a medical miracle, after leaving their war-torn home in Odessa, Ukraine, where mom, Diana Kuzmina, was a doctor and classical musician. 

Many doctors stated that Zlata had no cochlear nerve in either ear, and no chance of ever hearing with aids or implants. However, the family held onto hope, as Zlata sometimes seemed to react to loud sounds. 

Once in the Upstate, the family enrolled in BabyNet/SCSDB’s Early Intervention program, and began working with Service Coordinator Angela Whiteside and Family Trainers Krista Olsen and David Washington, to learn ASL and understand her diagnosis. 

Zlata plays peek-a-boo with her mother and Family Trainer, David Washington.

Many appointments, and many “no chances” later, the family finally attended an appointment at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), where Drs. Noxon and McRackan conducted another MRI and stated they found a tiny nerve in her right ear that other doctors missed. 

Zlata paused, looked up, and touched her ear. She was able to hear! Tears filled the eyes of all in the exam room. A few weeks later, Zlata received her cochlear implant and returned home to recover.

A month later, she returned to MUSC for activation. The family was nervous, as the surgery was not a guarantee she would be able to hear. As the sound levels increased from low to higher, the audiologist tapped a xylophone. 

Diana said they will continue learning ASL because Zlata is still deaf when the implant is turned off. “The doctors are saying Zlata is a true medical miracle. They say the implant shouldn’t be working as well as it is in her right ear, and now the surgery team thinks she will benefit with one in her left ear! This is what we had hoped and prayed for,” she exclaimed. 

“I am so thankful for America and the opportunities our little girl has gotten. We prayed that she would hear, that she would speak, and also, that she would sing. Our whole family sings. She will now be able to sing with our family in her own voice,” Diana declared.   

Zlata and her family’s story can serve as an inspiration of perseverance to us all. Sometimes, it seems, believing may also lead to hearing.

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.” - Helen Keller

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