May 2018 Illawarra Mercury
A 70-year-old man was the first patient to undergo bilateral cochlear implant surgery in the Illawarra on Friday. It’s been a long-held dream of Wollongong ear, nose and throat surgeon Dr Ekrem Serefli to bring the specialist surgery to the region, to enable “potentially thousands” of hearing-impaired residents to have the operation close to home. Dr Serefli has trained at Sydney’s St Vincent’s hospital under renowned hearing implant surgeon Dr Phillip Chang, who was at Wollongong Private Hospital on Friday afternoon to assist in the surgery.
Specialist surgery: Dr Ekrem Serefli is the only ENT surgeon in the Illawarra trained to perform cochlear implants.
“I’d estimate there’d be around 6000 people in the Illawarra who would be eligible for cochlear implants,” Dr Serefli said. “There’s a growing number of people with post-lingual deafness which is mainly noise-induced – for instance if they’ve worked in factories or the military. It can also be due to trauma, such as a sports injury, or infection.”
For many of these people, hearing aids can be of little benefit. A cochlear implant works differently – rather than just amplifying sound, the electronic device simulates the job of the damaged inner ear (cochlea), to provide sound signals to the brain. “Those with severe to profound hearing loss can benefit greatly from cochlear implants,” Dr Serefli said. “At Wollongong Private we will be operating on adults only. The implants are switched on one week after surgery and many patients benefit immediately and continue to improve over the next three months. “Their hearing, speech and language skills improve and they become much better connected to their environment, family and community.”
May 2018 Illawarra Mercury
The Shepherd Centre founder and pioneer of therapy and services for children with hearing loss in Australia passed away on May 25. He was 85. Dr Shepherd and his late wife Annette were pioneers of their time. They worked tirelessly at finding an alternative to the methods available in Australia for children with hearing loss when their children Penny and Danny were both born profoundly deaf.
Well-known Bowral resident Dr Bruce Shepherd AM has died
At that time, children with hearing loss were typically sent to designated schools for the deaf, often as boarders, where they were taught sign language and were isolated from their families and the hearing community. After extensive research, Bruce and Annette Shepherd embarked on a journey to America to attend the summer program at The John Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles. Impressed by this method of early intervention, Dr Shepherd brought this back to Australia where they established “The Council for Integrated Deaf Education” on Sydney University grounds – which later became known as The Shepherd Centre.
It was the first early intervention agency to teach “Auditory-Oral Therapy” to children with hearing loss in Australia. Starting with just five families, The Shepherd Centre now supports more than 500 families a year in NSW, the ACT and Tasmania and is continuing to grow. Dr Shepherd was also instrumental in lobbying the government for the introduction of the NSW State-wide Infant Screening Hearing (SWISH) program which was established in 2000 and is now used nationally.
His work has helped position Australia as one of the best places in the world to be born deaf with The Shepherd Centre’s outcomes for children with hearing loss incomparable.
In 1991 Dr Shepherd was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for his efforts in deaf education, teaching deaf children to speak and enabling them to attend mainstream schools with full integration. During his professional life, he became NSW state and federal president of the AMA. He founded the Australian Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Australian Doctors’ Fund, and was first leader of both of these. He was also President of The Australian Orthopaedic Association.
Dr Bruce Shepherd was always committed to deliver the best healthcare for all Australians. He is well known for passionately leading a group of doctors fighting the Hawke Labor Government striving to nationalise the profession.
Since its inception almost 50 years ago, The Shepherd Centre has enabled more than 2000 children to develop spoken language and experience social inclusion.
April 2018 SunshineCoast Daily
When Penny Phillips and Sophy Wragnell met during a Pilates class, neither one knew it would lead to a partnership to help Sunshine Coast residents with hearing loss.
Having lived with severe hearing loss for most of her adult life, Mrs Phillips received a cochlear implant four years ago. She discovered CICADA shortly after the surgery to have her implant inserted. She said while it was the best thing she ever did, the journey after having the implant turned on was tough. "It can take a good two or three years for people to learn to decipher sounds and to talk,” she said. "It's important to support their journey and that's what CICADA does.” Mrs Phillips spends a great deal of time fundraising for CICADA, a volunteer-run, not-for-profit organisation that provides support to people to have received a cochlear implant.
SOUNDS GREAT: CICADA will benefit from a donation from Bellingham Maze's wishing well
Bellingham Maze owner Mrs Wrangell said CICADA seemed like the perfect organisation to donate a portion of the maze's wishing well money. "The original owner's son had hearing loss and so the wishing well has always provided money to Deaf Services Queensland,” MrsWrangell said. "So when Penny approached me and inquired about the possibility of donating some of the money to CICADA it seemed like a perfect fit because at the end of the day it's still helping people with hearing impairments.”
After cleaning out the well, nearly $4000 was collected, with $1000 being donated to CICADA.
Mrs Phillips said it's money that would help provide much-needed support and services on the Coast. "We plan on using some of this money to fund captioning at some events,” she said. "That's where someone comes in and types what is being said live so it's displayed on a big screen for people with hearing impairments. It doesn't come cheap, at about $250 per event, so this money is a huge help.”
March 2018 Yass Tribune
Meet Lucy Masters, a seven-year-old from Yass born with microtia who shared her story on World Hearing Day to help change the lives of others. Children born with microtia have a congenitally small, malformed or absent external ear. With one in six Australians currently affected by hearing loss, which is expected to rise to one in four by 2050, stories like Lucy’s are important to be shared. Lucy and her proud parents are eager to share her story because of how much hearing loss impacted on her life, noting safety as a major concern.
Since receiving her MED-EL Bonebridge Implant, Lucy said she had found crossing the road a lot easier. “I can now hear cars coming up behind me,” she said. The first sounds she noticed when her device was activated were the sound of the cars driving past outside. “It was the best feeling ever. Everything was so clear. It was a very happy moment. My mum cried and told me that she was so happy because it would change my life, and it really has,” she said.
Lucy’s mum, Michelle Lloyd, remembers the day Lucy was born. “The doctors told us she only had one normal ear. “Being first-time parents, we went into panic mode, not knowing what microtia was and more importantly, what future our little girl had. “But we looked down at her little ear and thought it was just beautiful and knew we would do whatever we could,” Ms Lloyd said.
It took a few trips down various paths before finding the road that would ultimately lead to the doors opening up for Lucy. It was a visit to Westmead Children’s Hospital and meeting Associate Professor Catherine Birman, a specialist adult and paediatric cochlear implant surgeon, otologist, and paediatric ENT surgeon. Lucy’s parents credit Professor Birman, as well Lucy’s audiologists at Australian Hearing Canberra, together with the support from other families that made them feel incredibly informed and supported on this journey.
Lucy said her schoolmates think she “looks cool”. “I am no different to anyone else. “I have a Bonebridge [implant] to help me hear. Some kids wear glasses to help them see. We all have something special about us,” she said. Lucy’s passion is dancing and she said she can now “keep in time with the music”. “I love music and dancing as you can express yourself. Hearing my fave songs is just the best,” she said. But more than a passion, dancing is part of Lucy’s hopes and dreams for the future, wanting to become a professional dance teacher and “be able to help other kids with hearing loss that they can live life to the fullest”.