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January 17, 2003

Boy's Dream Of Hearing Comes True

From: WCVB-TV, MA - 17 Jan 2003

BURLINGTON, Mass. -- This summer, NewsCenter 5 told you about a 10-year-old Haverhill boy who dreamed of hearing normally. At the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, that dream came true Friday.

"Months I've been waiting, and it feels awesome," Richard Morrill said. "I couldn't hear people talking in the classroom or at home or at a friend's house."

NewsCenter 5's Rhonda Mann said that a tumor and surgery to remove it left Richard mostly deaf in his right ear and with limited hearing in his left.

But this summer, doctors at the Lahey Clinic began the first part of a procedure to restore his hearing. They surgically implanted a titanium screw in the bone behind his ear, the base for a BAHA or bone anchored hearing aid.

Unlike hearing aids, the BAHA bypasses the eardrum and ear canal making it the only option for someone like Richard who has lost most of the ear's conductive system.

"The vibrations are transferred, frequency specific, through the titanium screw to the skull bone and the skull bone will send those micro vibrations to the nerve center of the ear, and it will be as if he has direct connection from the sound externally to these nerves. Which is the way the ear is designed to work," Lahey Clinic Dr. Peter Catalano said.

Doctors plugged in the outer part of the device as Richard's mom and a slew of reporters looked on.

"(I am) nervous and excited. It's going to be fun that this is going to work, they say, 100 percent hearing," Richard's mother, Terri Mandigo, said.

"I feel glad that I have this. It works wicked good. I can hear small, small voices and stuff like that. I can probably even hear the squeak of a mouse," Richard said.

Insurance would not pay the $8,500 price tag for the procedure or the device. The hospital and the maker of BAHA donated the services.

Copyright 2003 by TheBostonChannel. All rights reserved.