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March 22, 2003

Local Child To Have Revolutionary Ear Surgery

From: The Palladium Times, NY - Mar 22, 2003

OSWEGO - Ashley Finch was born on July 28, 2002 without the ability
to even hear herself cry.

Now, through the marvels of modern technology, the 6-month-old will
receive cochlear implants within the next two months.

"She may be the youngest to ever go through this (procedure)," said
her father, Brian Finch, adding that a successful surgery would allow
his daughter to hear noises at up to 50 decibels.

"She may not be able to hear whispers, but she'll be able to carry a
normal conversation with anyone," Finch added.

According to Finch, when his daughter was born, Oswego Hospital ran
preliminary tests on her for hearing loss - a process that was
recently mandated by the state.

Ashley failed the preliminary screening, but Oswego Hospital went
above and beyond the state's requirements and performed an auditory
brain stem response test.

"We place a probe within the baby's ear, which emits clicking sounds
through the baby's ear canal," said Elmer Plantz, a neonatal nurse
practitioner at Oswego Hospital. "We attach little probes to the
baby's head so we can pick up the brain's response to the clicking."

Ashley failed the ABR as well and was diagnosed with severe-to-
profound hearing loss within the first 32 hours of her life.

"The hospital referred my wife (Stephanie) and I to the
communications disorder unit in Syracuse," said Finch, adding that
Oswego Hospital's diagnosis was confirmed.

"Through research, we've also come to know that deafness is a
recessive gene that both my wife and I have," said Finch. "We went
into a period of grief, but then we decided that we had to move
forward, for Ashley's sake."

Finch added that their insurance company has been very supportive of
Ashley's needs, going so far as to offer to pay for her surgery.

Ashley's cochlear implant surgery will be performed by Dr. Ronald
Hoffman at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City.

"(Hoffman) will be attaching an internal processor within the cochlea
of Ashley's ear," Finch explained, adding that a small removable
microphone will be attached magnetically to the processor at the tip
of her ear.

Finch went on to say that Ashley's recovery will last several months.

"It will take three to four weeks for the swelling and cuts to heal,
and several hearing tests will need to be done in order to fine-tune
the device's capabilities," Finch said.

Finch and his wife say that they are optimistic about Ashley's
recovery because of success stories that they have read about similar
children with similar situations.

"It's refreshing to see that the surgery does work and that children
can go on leading as normal a life as possible," Finch said.

© 2003 The Palladium Times