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August 23, 2004

Organ transplants for deafness?

From: Monterey County Herald, CA - Aug 23, 2004

By Peter H. Gott, M.D.

Dear Dr. Gott: In this age of medical miracles, in which organ transplants are readily available and widely used, why isn't there a transplant for old people who are deaf? All that the doctors do is recommend that we put pieces of plastic in our ears and attach amplifiers to them. Can't something else be done?

Dear Reader: I have no doubt that a future scientist will develop some sort of transplant for the hearing impairment of old age. In fact, some types of transplants -- notably cochlear implants -- are currently in use.

However, age-related deafness is a difficult and complex problem, caused by actual damage to the hearing structure deep within the skull. This structure is surgically inaccessible and is very small. Therefore, it's safer, easier and less expensive to use a mini-amplifier or a hearing aid.

Your point is well taken, but I'm afraid medical science still lacks the skill and technology to treat most deafness with transplants.

To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Ear Infections and Disorders." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

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