IT IS an event that most expectant mothers simply take for granted.
But for Leeds mum Kimberley Ward, the chance to listen to the heartbeat of her unborn baby was not going to be a possibility - until she underwent a pioneering operation to help restore her hearing.
Surgeons at Bradford Royal Infirmary made history yesterday (November 26) by performing the first cochlear implant on a pregnant patient in the UK after Miss Ward went through the procedure under local anaesthetic.
The operation was carried out in a bid to let her listen to the heartbeat of her unborn child - as well as a succession of everyday sounds that she has been missing out on since she lost her hearing as a teenager.
The 27-year-old business analyst had been unaware that a cochlear implant would benefit her, and said: “I’m really excited to have the implant and can’t wait to experience all the things I’ve been missing out on.
“We have never been given a reason or explanation as to why I lost my hearing. It took a while for my parents and doctors to refer me for audiology tests, as they believed I was lying and it was selective hearing.
“My hearing loss was not as bad at that age but it has since deteriorated over the years. I found it a very difficult and upsetting experience as I started to struggle in school and I was also bullied because of it.”
Miss Ward underwent the surgery this morning while 17 weeks pregnant. The cochlear implant will be switched on in the next four to six weeks, which will allow her to listen to her baby’s first heartbeat and will eventually let her hear her baby’s first cries along with her partner, Liam Binks. Miss Ward said: “I’m really looking forward to hearing everyday sounds that people take for granted like the rain falling on your umbrella or the birds. But the biggest thing for me is being able to hear my nephew.”