April 2019 ITV News
For the first time on the NHS, brain surgery can be used to help those who can't have hearing aid implants. Theo is one of the first to benefit. It will now be routinely available on the NHS.
What an auditory brain stem implant is, is a way of bypassing the Cochlear nerve which is the electric cable which links the inner ear with the brain. Now a very small number of children in the UK are born each year without Cochlear nerves. That means they're not eligible for the usual sort of hearing aids that some deaf children have and in particular they're not suitable for something called the Cochlear implant.
– SCOTT RUTHERFORD, NEUROSURGEON, MANCHESTER UNIVERSITY FOUNDATION TRUST
Two highly specialist teams at hospitals in Manchester and London will perform Auditory Brainstem Implants (ABIs) surgery for children who are deaf across the country. The surgery is for children who are profoundly deaf, aged five or under, who are unable to use conventional hearing aids or implants because their inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve did not develop properly. The highly complex procedure involves inserting a device directly into the brain to stimulate hearing pathways, bypassing the cochlea and auditory nerve that have not developed properly.
After discovering Theo couldn’t have a cochlear Implant, all we could think about was how would he hear a fire alarm, how could we protect him from danger? It’s now two years since Theo’s device was activated and he can hear me calling him from upstairs. His first word was “more” and his second was” mummy” – something I never thought I would hear. Every day he uses his voice more and more and now loves to try and sing. We are eternally grateful to the surgical and audiology teams in Manchester who have given our little boy the ability to hear and speak.
– IMELDA SANKSON, THEO'S MUM
The implant has changed Theo's life