Health heroes scoop national award

Monday 14 October 2019

Guy's and St Thomas' London Auditory Brainstem Implant team

Guy's and St Thomas' London Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI) team are celebrating after being honoured at The Sun’s Who Cares Wins awards.

The team were nominated for the Groundbreaking Pioneer Award by Bob and Alison Armitage.

Their daughter Leia, eight, was born with a rare form of deafness and was never expected to speak.

But she now can thanks to pioneering brain surgery, speech and language therapy and educational advice carried out by the ABI service.

Leia was just 22 months old, and the first child in London, to undergo pioneering brain surgery to have an auditory brainstem implant.

The highly complex procedure involves inserting an electronic hearing device directly into the brainstem, bypassing the cochlea and auditory nerve entirely.

Three surgeons from Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and University College Hospital came together in May 2013 to operate on Leia at King’s College Hospital.

Bob, from Dagenham in Essex, said: “As a family we are pleased that the pioneering work of the team has been recognised. It’s taken over five years to get to this point and a lot of rehab but Leia has defied the odds and is now putting full sentences together and has a wider vocabulary. There’s nothing better than hearing her say ‘I love you daddy’.”

The surgeons who treated Leia include Professor Dan Jiang, consultant ENT and skull base surgeon from Guy’s and St Thomas’, Professor Shakeel Saeed, consultant ENT and skull base surgeon from University College Hospital, and Mr Nicholas Thomas, consultant neurosurgeon from King’s College Hospital.

Leia’s implant was activated on her second birthday and she continues to have speech and language therapy at Guy’s and St Thomas’.

This includes support from Sandra Driver, principal speech and language therapist, Katherine Wilson, lead clinical scientist and clinical coordinator, Marsha Jenkins, audiological scientist, and Heather Crofts, teacher of the deaf.

Sandra, who attended the star-studded ceremony, said: “We were thrilled to be nominated, and to have won feels very special.  It recognises our truly integrated, multidisciplinary team, made even more special by the fact that it involves committed NHS staff from three different London hospitals.

“Leia’s fantastic progress is also down to her determination and the incredible support from her parents.”

The Sun's Who Cares Wins awards is a chance to give recognition to the selfless medics, researchers, and volunteers who've made a difference to people's lives.

Last updated: March 2022

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