June 2021 Chichester Observer
In the first operation of its kind to be conducted in the county, Mathew Gould had the MED-EL Bonebridge implanted in February 2020 at Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.
Mathew, from Worthing, has suffered with hearing loss for more than 20 years.
His friends and family were the first to realise that his hearing was not quite right – often having to repeat themselves several times. As an Engineering Manager, frustrated colleagues were often trying to get Mathew’s attention and large meetings were often difficult. At around 30 years old, he 'realised he had to do something' – which started his 'long journey' of trying to improve his hearing.
Recalling the initial consultation with a doctor, Mathew said: “It was the first time I’d heard the word ‘deaf’ – up until then, I’d been saying ‘hard of hearing’, which was a bit of a shock for me.” Mathew spent many years wearing hearing aids in both ears but his hearing in his left ear was becoming 'too much for it to assist'.
Then, in 2019, came the offer of the Bonebridge implant and, while Mathew knew he would be the first person to have this surgery in Sussex, he wasn’t deterred. He trusted the science and the modern technological approach. Surgeons Prof Bhutta and Mr Desai, and Audiologist Manuel Loureiro performed the surgeries. Mathew, who had his device switched on in February 2020, said: “The implant has helped make my hearing more balanced and provides a sharper sound.
"I find that it picks out sounds that the conventional one did not, including quieter sounds, like birds singing. Although it does take a little while for your brain to adjust, it is comfortable to wear.”
The implant works by being fully under the skin and the ergonomic implant doesn’t leave any open wounds or skincare routines to worry about. Bonebridge picks up the sounds around you, and then sends them to the inner ear through the bones of your skull, bypassing damaged outer and middle ears.
Manuel Loureiro, the Audiologist who led on Mathew’s implant rehabilitation, said: “We have been a specialist centre for bone conduction hearing implants for 25 years, but to be able to extend our portfolio to include the full range of bone conduction and middle ear implantable devices is a massive step forward for patients in Sussex. "University Hospitals Sussex are now in a position to offer a range of options to rehabilitate the hearing of many patients who would otherwise struggle with communication in their daily lives and our patients no longer have to travel large distances to access this technology.”
Professor Bhutta, who led the implant surgery, said: “Hearing loss is often called the hidden disability – the consequences of poor hearing on mental and even physical health can be severe and under-appreciated. Many patients with hearing loss will benefit from conventional hearing aids, some from surgery to reconstruct the bones of hearing or eardrum, but for the small number that don’t it is great to be in a position to offer these newer technologies.”