June 2020 WNYT
A baby girl from Pennsylvania recently became one of the youngest patients ever in the United States to receive bilateral cochlear implants. Adding to the complexity of the surgery, her case unfolded during the coronavirus pandemic. Surviving bacterial meningitis was just the beginning for Annelise Frisco. Four months old at the time, Annelise was left with profound hearing loss. Doctors advised bilateral cochlear implants, a procedure usually done on babies at least 9 months old, but an MRI showed scar tissue building in Annelise’s inner ear. "The clock was ticking and we had to move quickly," Dr. William Parkes says.
In just days, the team at Nemours duPont Hospital for Children was ready to take their youngest patient ever into the operating room. The surgery and activation of the implants were a complete success. "At one point I was slowly increasing the amount of current, and it got to a level that she didn't quite like, and she gave me the clearest raised eyebrows," says Dr. Yell Inverso.
Annelise has follow-up appointments and speech therapy ahead of her, but her prognosis is positive. "Even when I wake her up for a nap, and turn her ears on, or her implants on, then her face just completely changes, and she starts babbling and it seems like she is catching up right where she should be," says Kelsey Frisco, Annelise's mom.