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Medical Marvel: Mequon man becomes the first deaf doctor ever to graduate from the University of Wisconsin

CREATED May 17, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - A couple years ago, families with deaf children had to pay thousands of dollars, out of pocket, for a device that would allow their child to hear. The I-Team pressed the issue until 2009 when lawmakers finally required insurance companies to help pay for cochlear implants.

The change has helped hundreds of Wisconsin families and now it's helping Josh Reiher make medical history. On Friday, he became the first deaf person to graduate from the University of Wisconsin medical school.

When Josh was just four years old he became deaf.

"I had to wear this FM system and I felt very different from the other kids and I came home crying," remembers Josh. But he pushed forward. "You almost become addicted to obstacles."

He became a great soccer player and took Homestead High School to the state championships, then nationals, in Indiana. He was also a straight-A student. So imagine his father's pride to call his son by a different title.

"I don't even characterize it as a disability to him. It's an opportunity. He is going to be, I think, a very significant doctor," says his father, Jim Reiher.

Josh is the first deaf doctor ever to graduate from the University of Wisconsin.

"It gives other people hope and hopefully inspiration," says Josh.

During the beginning of med school, Josh still couldn't hear. He needed captioners in the classroom. He says the workload was exhausting.

"It requires so much concentration to get through the day, to read lips or try to understand people," explains Jim.

Then, he was given the cochlear implant. It took him a while to get used to it and an extra year of college. But he thinks it will pay off, just like all his hard work.

"I never in a million years thought I would be here," says Josh.