Go Jim Go: John Robert Phillips Patient Story

(Oxford, MS) Near the town of Oxford, John Robert Phillips is an extremely active three-year-old.

Whether he’s shooting a three pointer or dunking a ball, John Robert enjoys playing hoops.

His parents, Chris and Rachel, describe John Robert as their special little boy.

“That’s my baby boy. Me and him are pretty tight,” Chris Phillips said

“There’s a lot of things that you can describe about John Robert, pretty much at the beginning he was a good baby,” Rachel Phillips said.         

John Robert was a good baby, but he was also one who was born prematurely with some challenges his parents hadn’t expected to hear about from his doctor.

“We got some bad news(doctor said), the baby’s got Down Syndrome and we were just in shock.” Chris Phillips said.

The Phillips were in shock. a few weeks later they got more surprising news after John Robert didn’t respond during a hearing exam called an Auditory Brain Response Test.

“I was holding John Robert and he was asleep and I heard this loud clicking and I’ll never forget it, my mother was with me, and John Robert didn’t move at all,” Rachel Phillips said.

John Robert couldn’t hear. Doctors diagnosed him as profoundly deaf.

“When we got the news he was deaf, profound in one ear and almost where he could hear a little in the other, it was like a ton of bricks was dropped on your head,” Chris Phillips said.      

It was probably the worst day of their lives, but their local doctors suggested that the Phillips consider a specialized type of hearing surgery for John Robert.

It’s called a Cochlear Implant procedure and one of the few hospitals where it could be done was Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.     

Doctor Bruce MacDonald is a neurologist at Le Bonheur and John Robert’s surgeon.

“To me the goal was to take away the limitations placed on him by his hearing loss and allow him to develop to his full potential,” MacDonald said.      

The first time the Cochlear Implants were turned there was no response, but then his parents witnessed something they say was amazing.

“To go from nothing to something, I think it was a complete shock for the baby and I was completely shocked and immediately he started babbling, ” said Rachel Phillips.

The Cochlear Implants allowed John Robert not only to hear, but he could hear the sound of his parents’ voices.

“It was a relief. It was more of a relief. I knew he (John Robert) would have a fighting chance of making it in the world,” Chris Phillips said. 

“He has definitely benefited from the sound stimulation he has received and it’s fun to watch him interact and respond to sound and respond to voice. He’s a different child,” MacDonald said.        

John Robert Phillips, a different child, who not only enjoys playing and reading books, but one who can now hear because of what the Phillips call miracles that happen at Le Bonheur.

“To be able to do a surgery on a kid and in our instance and for him to be able to hear, that’s an absolute miracle.” Chris Phillips said.

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