Posted on Tuesday 8 April 2014
When Evie Smith’s cochlear implants were turned on at St Thomas’ Hospital in London on Thursday 3 April, she became the youngest child in the UK to have this surgery.
It means the six-month-old can hear for the first time since meningitis left her profoundly deaf thanks to a small electronic device implanted in her head.
Evie contracted meningitis when she was just three-days-old and was rushed to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit in Evelina London Children’s Hospital at St Thomas’ where she made a remarkable recovery.
But doctors discovered the potentially life-threatening illness had caused her to become profoundly deaf, a common side-effect, and they referred her to the St Thomas’ Hearing Implant Centre.
The hearing team discovered that she had bony growth of the cochlea, part of the inner ear. If this growth develops too far, cochlear implants cannot be implanted.
Mr Dan Jiang, an ear, nose and throat consultant, performed the operation to put in Evie’s first cochlear implant on 8 January when she was just three-months-old. Her second implant was put in on 27 February.
“Evie was a special case,” says Tisa Thomas, specialist audiological scientist. “The bony growth had already started so the window for Evie to be able to have cochlear implants was closing fast. Her parents Barrie and Jenny had to make a quick decision.”
Barrie and Jenny decided to go ahead with the implants so that Evie would be able to experience another aspect to life.
“Evie is still a deaf child – if her implants were removed, she wouldn’t be able to hear – but having them will make a big difference, especially in helping her develop speech and language,” says Barrie.
Evie will have appointments throughout her life to ensure her cochlear implants are tailored to her needs so that she enjoys the best quality of hearing possible.