- Hayward Duresseau and Kerry Kennedy were on a trip to San Francisco to visit family.
- When they got home, Duresseau was diagnosed with meningitis, which caused him to lose his hearing.
- The couple learned American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate.
- Duresseau recently gained the ability to hear again with a Cochlear Implant.
- Kennedy proposed to Duresseau after the implant was turned on in a video that has gone viral.
The first thing Hayward Duresseau heard after losing his hearing for six months was his partner, Kerry Kennedy asking him to marry him.
Six months earlier, Duresseau and Kennedy were on a trip to San Francisco to visit family. On the return flight home to Louisiana, Duresseau felt exhausted. He initially thought it was because he’d had a glass of wine. But the next day, his condition began to rapidly decline..
“I became paralysed from the hip down. Kerry had to carry me down stairs and walk me to the car,” Duresseau told INSIDER. “It was a nightmare. At that point my hearing faded and I couldn’t hear a thing.”
It only took two days to “to turn life upside down,” Kennedy said. Duresseau was rushed to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with meningitis.
While he was in San Francisco, Duresseau recalled seeing something about a meningitis outbreak on the news, but “didn’t think anything of it.”
The disease can be deadly if isn’t caught soon enough. According to the CDC, meningococcal bacteria spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit, by living in close quarters, or kissing. Meningococcal outbreaks are still very rare in the US. Fewer than 300 cases are reported each year.
Duresseau was in the hospital for three weeks to regain his mobility and sight. He was told he wouldn’t be able to walk for six months, but through determination, he started walking after just three. However, he was still unable to hear. The couple wasn’t sure if he’d ever get his hearing back, so they learned American Sign Language to communicate.
“We would stay up and practice sign language for two hours every night,” Duresseau said. “We learned quite a bit in a short amount of time because we didn’t know what was going to happen next.”
Luckily, Duresseau was approved for a Cochlear Implant, which is a device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear. As Duresseau prepared for the surgery, Kennedy planned his proposal.
A video of the special moment was shared on Facebook and has made the rounds on social media.
“For the first time in six months, you were able to hear me, and I knew exactly what I wanted to ask you,” Kennedy wrote. “When you said ‘yes’ today, that made all the challenges worth it. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.”
The couple said they were shocked by the reaction, which Kennedy said has been “entirely positive.” People have even stopped them to congratulate them since the video has gone viral. The couple hope to tie the knot around Mardi Gras, since that’s when they had their first date.