The first-ever auditory stem implant in a child was recently performed on a three-year-old boy from Charlotte, NC, named Grayson Clamp. He was given the device, which allows his brain to process sound, during a surgery performed in May at University of North Carolina (UNC) Hospitals, Chapel Hill, NC.

Grayson is shown as he hears for the very first time.

Born with a genetic disorder that resulted in having no cochlear nerve in either ear, which would carry signals from his ears to his brain, Grayson was a given the surgery as part of an FDA clinical trial. A previous study demonstrated that deaf children benefit from cochlear implants received early in life. However, without any nerves in the ear, a cochlear implant was not possible.

A tiny microchip was inserted directly on the brain's sound processing center right on the brainstem during the procedure. The chip can stimulate hearing because it bypasses the ears completely and is wired directly into the brain.

Over time, doctors say the device he wears to interact with a microchip placed on his brain will be fine-tuned and improved. The day the implant was turned on, Grayson heard his father’s voice for the first time. The device Grayson received was originally used for patients with deafness due to auditory nerve tumors, which impact hearing. The device is now being considered to help restore hearing in children.