Hadassah Ear Specialist Enables Deaf Boy to Hear

06Jul09

Because of a virus, Haim lost his hearing totally at age three months, but the Hadassah Medical Center’s advanced technology has enabled him to hear well once again.

Haim’s mother, Lisa, realized her son had a hearing problem when one afternoon the car brake made a loud sound and her son did not react. Lisa turned up the radio higher and higher and Haim did not even blink. Although a physician told her there was nothing to be done, a neighbor who had been a professor at Hadassah urged her to take Haim to see specialists at the hospital. Dr. Yosef Elidan, now head of Hadassah’s Department of Otolaryngology, tried various hearing aids and therapy, but ultimately recommended a cochlear implant, often referred to as a “bionic ear.” The implant bypasses the damaged part of the ear, directly stimulating the auditory nerve that leads to the brain. When Haim reacted to a dog barking, his mother knew the implant was successful.

Auditory therapists then invested tens of thousands of hours helping Haim develop speech. Still, Haim had trouble filtering out background noise and hearing clearly in a group when many voices were speaking at once. Dr. Elidan recommended a cochlear implant for the second ear to help filter the jumble of sound he experienced. The procedure was controversial, but the family decided to try it before Haim’s brain lost the elasticity necessary to work with an implant. It made a huge difference.

Thanks to this second implant, Haim was able to differentiate nuances of tone to chant his Torah portion at his Bar Mitzvah flawlessly, reports Barbara Sofer, Israel Director of Public Relations for Hadassah.

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