LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky teenager is one of the first people in the state to receive a first-of-its-kind cochlear implant. 

15-year-old Annalisa Weis said since getting the implant, she's able to experience life in a way she hadn't been able to in years.

“As I could get out of the office, I was like, 'whoa.' I could hear bugs. I could hear car engines," Weis said. "I didn’t realize how loud the world was. It was a really beautiful experience.”

Weis first experienced hearing loss in one ear a few years ago. She noticed it was getting increasingly hard to hear at school and in social settings. 

"It just becomes extremely frustrating. It’s just another set of stress that I didn’t know would be a problem when my hearing did decline,” Weis said.

She started standing closer to people so she could hear them and reading lips to piece together the words she couldn't make out. With social distancing and the mask mandate, it's been hard to do that since the pandemic. That's why she couldn't have gotten this cochlear implant at a better time.

"Thanks to COVID-19, the mask has really made it hard for me to hear, but I can actually get past that barrier now since their voices are actually audible,” Weis said.

When her dad found out Dr. Jerry Lin with UofL Health was using this implant to help other hearing loss patients, they decided to give it a try. Weis said she's glad she did.

"It's definitely taken a huge weight off. I'm so grateful," Weis said.