100,000 people around the world can hear again thanks to a Cochlear™ Baha® System
21 Aug, 2013
Ever since the very first patient was implanted with a Baha® hearing solution in 1977, more and more people all over the world have been able to restore their hearing with this remarkable invention. This year Cochlear celebrates an amazing 100,000 Baha users - all with unique stories of how being able to hear again has impacted their lives. Meet three of them here.
20-year old Camille Masino, USA, was born with Goldenhar Syndrome. She had fused vertebrae in the neck making it difficult to turn her head, as well as deformation of the outer and middle ear which caused her to suffer from severe hearing loss in her right ear. Her childhood was filled with constant trips in and out of surgery. To complicate matters further, Camille also had sensitive allergies and chronic sinus problems.
The allergies brought on constant ear infections in Camille’s left ear – her “good” ear – causing her to suffer from hearing loss on that side too. At age 11, Camille developed a cholesteatoma (a growth in the middle ear) in her left ear and from then on she really struggled to communicate. A doctor told her parents that Camille would most likely find it difficult to succeed in school.
At the age of 14 and after almost as many surgeries, Camille decided to get bilateral Baha sound processors.
"It was the best decision she ever made!” says Camille's mother Hilary Masino. “Hearing with the Baha sound processors has truly changed her life. Above all, it has allowed Camille to continue dancing ballet."
Camille, 20, Baha user
Dancing is Camille's life. She started dancing ballet when she was just three years old, and has danced though deafness, dizziness, pain and the inability to turn her head.
"I love dancing. I dance six days a week. After every surgery I would wrap my head in a scarf and rush to get back to the studio. All my doctors thought I was crazy," laughs Camille.
Without being able to hear, Camille learned how to dance by lip reading her teacher’s instructions and by feeling the beat of the music. When she got her Baha sound processors, Camille could hear the music for the first time – and her teacher. When Camille heard her teacher giving her praise it was a revelation. She realised that she had been doing it for years, saying “Good” or “Well done!” – only Camille had never heard it before! In her senior year of high school Camille danced the solo role of the Snow Queen in the Nutcracker; "She was beautiful," says Hilary.
Proving her doctor wrong, Camille graduated from high school with a 3.9 GPA and with a career path award in Medical Microbiology and Biotechnology. She was accepted to college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
"Today I’m grateful for my trials," concludes Camille. "They are my biggest blessings. They have made me into who I am today."
The World War II survivor
You don’t need to be a child to benefit from a Baha solution. Above all, it is never too late do something about your hearing loss.
No one knows that better than Brian Dowdall, UK, who received his Baha sound processor at the age of 71 - after being almost entirely hearing impaired on his right side for 65 years!
Brian, today 77, lost his hearing during the London Blitz of World War II, when he, as just a little boy, witnessed the house next door being hit by a bomb. The blast not only destroyed the house, it left the young Brian with severe, and permanent, hearing loss. Brian struggled to overcome his handicap throughout his life, but despite it he was able to achieve many things.
Brian, 77, Baha user
However, socially, Brian had always felt a little out of place, as he found it difficult to keep up with conversations around him. All his life he avoided noisy environments such as restaurants, parties, meetings, and the cinema – even though he longed to participate more.
"My Baha sound processor has made a tremendous difference to my life in many areas," says Brian. "One of the things I am now able to do is join in conversations at a dinner table with a group of friends, even at a crowded restaurant. I also just feel a lot more confident in speaking to people generally."
“The biggest benefit I describe as LEARNING TO LISTEN. Before, I simply switched my hearing ‘off’ as the noises I heard did not mean anything to me. Now I leave my hearing ‘on’ to hear sounds that now have meaning,” he says with a smile.
Brian and his wife Shirley met in the 1950s when they first started ballroom dancing. They still go to a tea dance once a month and dance the same steps as they did, 50 years ago. The difference now is Brian can hear and enjoy the music, and not just the evenings spent dancing with his long time sweetheart!
The Navy officer
Kelly, 33, Baha user
Hearing loss can be something that you struggle with for a long time – or it can come suddenly, overnight. For Australian Kelly Jenkins, born in 1980, her hearing loss came as a complete and utter shock.
Kelly grew up fit and healthy and was encouraged to take advantage of all the opportunities available. In 1998 after graduating from high school, she joined the Royal Australian Navy. Her life was just beginning and everything was going according to plan. But it all unravelled when Kelly, then 20, had an ear infection. Little did she know that this would change who she was as well as all her high flying plans for the future.
Her ear drum perforated and there was a constant discharge from her left ear. After being prescribed several courses of antibiotics Kelly had a surgery which seemed to clear things up. But the infection reappeared. After another operation she suffered from tinnitus and mild hearing loss.
"Further surgery and once again, two weeks later, the infection was back,” Kelly remembers. “I became depressed, lost my confidence, struggled to concentrate and was always tired. The tinnitus got worse and I couldn't hear on my left side.”
By now the Navy decided a career on the water wasn't the best place for Kelly and gave her a medical discharge. The tinnitus was severe and her hopes and dreams were shattered.
"I isolated myself. Restaurants and parties were awful - and avoided if I could make an excuse. I wanted to save myself from either embarrassment for saying the wrong thing as I misheard, or being thought of as rude for ignoring a question."
In 2005 Kelly had a mastoidectomy but this time her ear canal was closed. This meant the end to infection but it also destroyed all her residual hearing. One day it was suggested she trial a Baha sound processor on a headband. Kelly had already had so many surgeries that she wasn’t interested in another, but couldn’t help but wonder what her life would be like if she could actually hear. So she made the appointment. And nothing could prepare her for the results.
"Words can never capture the moment. Even with the test device I could hear so much more than I had for years. I was overwhelmed at the noise a light switch made, along with the sounds of your pants brushing together as you walked. I knew it was for me and immediately booked time for surgery. I had to have it!"
Three months later Kelly was fitted with her Baha sound processor, something she has never regretted.
"It was instantly amazing. I could even hear soft sounds. I no longer had to worry about missing a conversation or where I was going to sit in a room. My sound processor goes everywhere. I wear it from the moment I get out of the shower until I go to bed. I can hear, and I feel normal for the first time in years."
Her hearing allowed Kelly to get her career back on track. After years of feeling isolated in groups, she took a new position in Human Resources which involves plenty of public speaking.
And Kelly’s favourite sound?
“The standout moment for me will always be with the trial headband,” says Kelly. “The light switch and the sound your pants make as you walk. I still flick a light switch and smile.“
How does the Baha® System work?
The Baha System uses bone conduction to transfer sound to the inner ear, naturally. A small titanium implant is inserted in the bone behind the ear. A sound processor is fixed to the top of the implant. Sound is then transmitted as vibrations from the processor through the bone to stimulate the inner ear.
Read more about how the Baha® Connect System works
Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions AB
SE - 435 33 Mölnlycke Sweden
Tel: +46 31 335 14 61
Fax: +46 31 335 14 60
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