In late 2015, Ear Science Institute Australia restored hearing to its 500th cochlear implant recipient.
Sixty six-year-old grandfather Alex McKay received the implant through the Ear Science Clinic (formerly the Hearing Implant Centre), having suffered increasingly severe hearing loss across the past 20 years.
A printer by trade for most of his working life, Alex entered the workforce at the tender age of 14: a time when protection measures against large, noisy occupational machinery – like those used in printing – were simply not available.
Alex began to suffer from Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, but it wasn’t until age 45 that he realised just how bad his hearing had become. He was fitted with bilateral hearing aids at his local clinic, but his hearing, particularly in his left ear, continued to worsen.
“As time went on, I really started struggling,” he said.
“I began to shut down. I turned down social invitations, my work colleagues got frustrated. My grandkids couldn’t chat with me. My wife and I had so many arguments.
“My ears just didn’t have enough sound receptors left for the hearing aids to be any use. It was incredibly difficult.”
In June, however, Alex got his sense of hearing back. A celebrated milestone for both Alex and the Institute, as its 500th successful cochlear implant.
“I’m so delighted Ear Science has hit the 500th cochlear implant mark, and thankful to be the recipient. 500 implants is a really fantastic achievement,” Alex said.
“The whole team at Ear Science were absolutely brilliant. There’s no other word for them.”
Ear Science Clinic’s Head of Clinical Services, Gemma Upson, also offered special congratulations to Alex in honour of the milestone.
“Hearing loss can have devastating consequences on the quality of life for the average person,” Gemma said.
“It really can make those affected feel a sense of disconnect and isolation, and can so easily impact upon family and work life.
“Five-hundred cochlear implants is an amazing achievement; through ESIA, 500 West Australians have received the invaluable gift of hearing. Further, for every one of our 500 recipients, there are so many other significant people who have also benefitted – husbands and wives, sons and daughters, friends and wider family; they can all now interact with their loved ones on a more meaningful level.”
Alex’s wife Roslyn said the implant had had an invaluable impact on their family life.
“The implant is wonderful,” she said.
“It’s so good to be able to chat normally with Alex again. There’s much less stress on me and he’s really got his independence back. We’re going out more, we’re seeing our friends again. He chats with the grandkids.
“People need to be more aware of how amazing the cochlear implant is”.