An infant enrolled in a collaborative clinical trial between Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary and Massachusetts General Hospital has become the youngest person in the US to receive an auditory brain stem implant.
One-year-old baby Elise Bradshaw, who was born deaf, underwent the experimental procedure after experts ruled out other measures to restore her hearing, including a cochlear implant.
Elise underwent implant surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in March. When an audiologist activated the implant, Elise was immediately able to turn toward the sound.
Because Elise was born without hearing nerves a cochlear implant wouldn’t help her, but the brainstem implant does by stimulating the brain directly.
However, unlike normal hearing, the implant converts the sound waves into signals that Elise has to decipher.
A video documenting the first time Elise can hear shows Elise’s mother smiling at her daughter’s reaction.
“It would mean the world to me for her to be able to say I love you and for her to hear me say I love her,’’ Jill told WBZ.
It’s an experimental procedure and doctors say there’s no guarantee that Elise will be able to understand spoken words. According to WBZ, the procedure is currently approved for teens and adults, but two more surgeries on young kids are scheduled to take place at Mass Eye and Ear.