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May 9, 2005

Health Watch: Cockaynes Syndrome And Cochlear Implant

From:, TX - May 9, 2005

Ashanti Blaize-KFOX Morning News Reporter

Cockayne's syndrome is a condition that speeds up the aging process in people. A person might be a teenager and think like a teenager, but have the body of an 80-year old. And just like many elderly, those with this condition experience hearing loss. In this Health Watch Report, we introduce you to Sarah, who at age 19 had what's considered a simple Cochlear Implant, but due to the age of her body, this procedure became complicated.

19-year old Sara May is walking down the hall to what she hopes is a new life. After years of seeing her hearing deteriorate, she received a Cochlear Implant, and it's about to be turned on. The hearing problem is caused by Cocayne's Syndrome, a genetic condition that speeds up the aging process.

Dr. John Oghalai-Vascular Surgeon: "She's got the brain of a 19 year old and the body of an 80 year old. Part of getting older is ears where out and you just can't hear as well. Well, her ears had worn out to such a point that she was completely deaf almost."

A Cochlear Implant is a device implanted under the skin, behind the ear, that takes sound pressure waves and converts them to the electrical signals the nerve needs to get to the brain. When a person is deaf the inner ear is not capable of doing this on its own. This is not a complicated procedure for a normal child, but for someone in Sara's condition, it can be a bit tricky.

Dr. John Oghalai-Vascular Surgeon: "Because of her inappropriate aging, we have to worry about the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cerebral spinal fluid leakage during the surgery. So the risks of surgery are a lot higher than in that of a normal child."

Sara is slowly hearing sounds, and is starting to get her life back.

Dr. John Oghalai-Vascular Surgeon: "She's beginning to talk on the telephone again. She's beginning to interact with people outside her family again. Now she's being able to get out into the world more. She's beginning to work. So she's starting to lead a much more productive life."

Cathy May-Sarahs Mother: "She's wanting to work in a nursing home. Volunteer in a nursing home, hang out with old people.

Sara May is the oldest living person with Cockane's Syndrome. Most patients with this condition never make it to their teenage years.

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