Bahamas' First Cochlear Implant Surgery Deemed a Success
By Doctors Hospital
Dec 18, 2015 - 1:34:51 PM
Wesley Paul with Dr. McKinnon
Nassau, Bahamas - Three years
ago, Wesley Paul suddenly went deaf. He had just no residual hearing in his
left ear and minimal hearing in his right, and he was no longer able to
communicate, continue to work in the financial sector or participate in one of
his favourite hobbies – singing.
remains unclear what led to his hearing loss, Wesley recalls having an earache
in August, 2012. He took over the counter medication and never got medical
attention, instead he compensated for the deficiency by relying on his left ear
for listening and receiving information.
2013, he subsequently lost his hearing in his left ear. He was sitting in the
movies one night and heard a sound he describes as ‘fire crackers’ and then suddenly
was thrust into a world of silence. He did not know how to sign, lip-read or communicate
by any means. This changed his life drastically – he lost his job and could no
longer communicate verbally or socialize with family and friends. He found
himself retreating more into this ‘world of silence’ to a point where he felt a
profound sense of hopelessness and felt at times there was no reason to live.
was fitted with a hearing aid, but struggled to communicate. Losing hope at
ever regaining the life he once enjoyed, Wesley had what would turn out to be a
life changing meeting with local Audiologist Dr Kim Scriven.
recently partnered with the Med-EL company out of Austria – one of the world’s
leading manufacturers of implantable hearing devices – to open one of their
hearLIFE Clinics at Bahamas Medical Center offering several types of hearing
implant surgeries including Cochlear Implantation at Doctors Hospital.
deemed an ideal candidate and on July 4, 2015 underwent the first Cochlear
Implant surgery to be performed in The Bahamas at Doctors Hospital. His surgery
was deemed a success.
Dr Scriven with Wesley Paul
selected because he met all medical and audiological criteria, had very good
post-linguistic skills, was highly motivated with the drive and determination
to regain some normalcy and improved quality of life, and the fact that he had
only lost his hearing a few years ago,” Dr Scriven explained.
surgical procedure was performed at Doctors Hospital by the hearLIFE Clinic
Nassau’s consulting ENT Surgeon Dr Brian J. McKinnon, assisted by Dr Robert
Ramsingh, local ENT Surgeon.
A cochlear implant system helps
to restore the sense of hearing for people with severe-to-profound
sensorineural hearing loss. For children and adults with this type of hearing
loss, hearing aids provide little or no benefit.
A cochleari is the only medical
device capable of replacing one of the senses. It works by bypassing
non-functioning parts of the inner ear and providing electrical stimulation
directly to nerve fibers in the cochlea. A cochlear implant system consists of
two parts: an externally worn audio processor, which sits comfortably behind or
off the ear, and an internal cochlear implant, which is surgically placed just
under the skin.
who practices and teaches in Tennessee, grew up in a hearing impaired family
and knows firsthand the challenges profound hearing loss can pose to the
individual as well as his or her family. Cochlear implant surgery, he explains,
restores quality of life and function that benefits the patient, the family and
“This technology takes one of the most daunting problems –
an inner ear that no longer works – and helps us give a very effective solution
for that, whether you’re a child or an adult.
Pediatric implants have done wonders for deaf children
because they now can achieve similar education and employment opportunities as
a normal hearing peer when they are implanted in the first 9 to 12 months of
life,” he explained.
“You can take somebody who can’t be employed because of
their hearing loss and now they can be employed because the cochlear implant
allows them to function within the workplace.
Cochlear implant surgery underway
You can take the older patient who is unable to communicate
with his providers, with his physician, with his family, who is facing the
possibility of no longer being able to live independently and you can allow
them to live independently because they can hear the environment around them.”
implant was activated a month after the surgery and since then he has been
undergoing rigorous therapy with Dr Scriven and Speech Language Pathologist
Sharon Clarke to learn how to communicate and adapt to life using a cochlear
“It has only
been one month since the activation, but Wesley has done remarkably well. Not
only is he able to hear sounds around him, but on the objective tests he also
did very well, scoring almost 80% on the speech test in quiet without any
visual cues,” said Dr Scriven.
skills are impressive as he now seldom requires repetition by the listener and
doesn’t rely on lip-reading as often. Results of standardized testing also
validate the progress h is making as he is now able to correctly respond to
questions with little cueing and repetition. He is also beginning to watch
television and listen to music again, which he loves.”
post lingual cochlear implant recipients like Wesley will undergo up to a year
of therapy in order to regain the highest possible level of hearing function.
Cochlear Implant surgery was done as a pro bono case with Doctors Hospital, the
HearLIFE Clinic, Med-El, Dr Brian McKinnon, Dr Robert Ramsingh, Dr Sy Pierre
and Dr Kim Scriven donating their time and expertise.
Scriven, who sees first hand the struggles so many patients experience due to
profound hearing loss, the ability to provide Cochlear Implant Surgery at
Doctors Hospital is significant.
Wesley in a speech therapy session
For the country, it further validates our
position in the rest of the world as that ‘little dot’ of a country on the map that
is able to provide medical treatment and services at a very high and
professional level, but in the kind of environment that only adds to the individual’s
healing process. For this reason, too, it will also add to our medical tourism
value, persons would be more inclined to the Bahamas for standardized medical
care in a tried and proven destination, known for treating the customer right,”
“Thanks to Barry Rassin, Charles Sealy,
Cheryl Seymour and the rest of the team at Doctors Hospital, Dr Robert Ramsing
and Dr Sy Pierre, the entire team from Med-El in Austria, the staff of hearLIFE
Clinic Nassau and all those who partnered with us to make this first time
venture the success it was. This collaborative effort and its subsequent
results speak volumes about the positive things that can be achieved when
everyone works together with the same vision and purpose,” she added.
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