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Updated 9:00 AM October 13, 2004




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U-M Health System celebrates 1,000th cochlear implant

The Cochlear Implant Program at the U-M Health System (UMHS) reached a milestone Oct. 1 when Dr. Steven A. Telian, the program's medical director, implanted a cochlear device in the 1,000th recipient.

"This is such a special day for our program," said Teresa A. Zwolan, director of the Cochlear Implant Program. "It's great knowing that so many individuals have benefited from this technology. It is an excellent opportunity to celebrate this landmark with our patients and to inform the public about the importance of early identification [of] and intervention [in] hearing loss."
Courtesy Cochlear Americas

To commemorate the event and the 1,000 patients who received cochlear implants at UMHS, the program hosted a celebration Oct. 2. Heather Whitestone McCallum, Miss America 1995 and Cochlear ™ Nucleus ® implant recipient, helped the program kick off the celebration.

The event included a fund-raising silent auction and gala dinner to benefit the program's Children's Fund. Whitestone McCallum and Larry Burns, vice president of research and development and planning at General Motors, served as the guests of honor and discussed their experiences with hearing loss and how cochlear implantation has affected their lives. Burns received his cochlear implant at U-M.

Cochlear implants are electronic devices that bypass damaged hair cells in the inner ear and stimulate the hearing nerve directly. The implants can provide useful hearing and improved communication abilities to those who receive little or no benefit from hearing aids. They are approved for use in adults and children as young as 12 months of age.

The U-M Cochlear Implant Program has provided the devices to deaf children and adults for 20 years. The program was established in 1984 with the implantation of a single channel device in an adult. The first mulitchannel device was implanted in 1986. The program has participated in several clinical trials to evaluate new technology and has performed research in several areas related to cochlear implants. The youngest child to receive an implant at U-M was 11 months of age at the time of surgery.

Currently, U-M performs about 100 cochlear implant surgeries a year, making it the largest program of its kind in the nation. To learn more about the program, visit

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