On 23 February 2011, ear surgeon Dr Estie Meyer, head of the new BAHA team at Groote Schuur Hospital, implanted Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA®) into two patients. These two patients who suffered from hearing loss for years will be fitted with external sound processors that transfer sound to their cochlea’s via the implants in their skulls. The fittings will connect them to proper sound for the first time in their lives.
The two children who were selected according to international selection criteria for BAHAs are Asiphe Ngamlana (aged 13 years) of Khayamandie in Stellenbosch, and Kanya Mbaliswana (aged 13 years) of Khayelitsha.
Asiphe has Treacher Collins Syndrome. She was born without ear canals. Her previous hearing aid fitted onto her head like an Alice band –as she could not wear a conventional hearing aid –and conducted sound through her skin and then to the skull. The device became uncomfortable after a while and did not provide optimal hearing. The BAHA that has now been implanted into her skull will bypass the skin and muscle overlying the skull and will conduct the sound directly into the bone (skull), and then to the hearing nerve. This system should not only dramatically improve her hearing but is also comfortable to wear.
Due to chronic ear infection and multiple surgeries to both ears, the second patient, Kanya, could not use a conventional hearing aid at all for the past year. His poor hearing also affected his school work. For these reasons he is an excellent candidate to benefit from a Baha implant.
The BAHA system consists of a small titanium implant that is drilled into the bone behind the ear where it fuses with the living bone. The external sound processor is attached to the implant after a healing period of six to twelve weeks to transfer sound to the cochlea (inner ear). The BAHA system is normally indicated for patients who were born without ear canals or have middle-ear problems and cannot wear conventional hearing aids.
The new BAHA team at the Groote Schuur Hospital comprises of Dr Estie Meyer (Otologist) and audiologists Sharon Pithey, Megan Ferguson and Shanaaz Marlie. The team is clinically supported by Southern ENT, the South African distributor of the European imported Baha® system.
The BAHA is an excellent alternative product to people with certain types of hearing disabilities. However, many candidates cannot afford the implant that costs about R50 000.
A number of audiologists in the area attended today’s launch to find out how their patients and practices could benefit from this new resource in their midst.
(Press Release, May 2011)