UCLA: 3 Deaf Armenian Children Receive First Cochlear Implants

UCLA (press release), CA
April 8 2004

Three Deaf Armenian Children Receive Region’s First Cochlear
Implants, Thanks to UCLA Medical Mission

Contact: Elaine Schmidt ( [email protected] )
Phone: 310-794-2272

Three hearing-impaired Armenian children now can hear, thanks to a
medical mission led by the UCLA Department of Head and Neck Surgery.
The medical team performed the region’s first cochlear implant
surgeries in the youngsters, aged 2, 3 and 4.

A cochlear implant is an electronic device that restores partial
hearing in deaf people.

“Three out of every 1,000 Armenians suffer hearing impairment, but
local medical centers are not equipped to address this devastating
problem,” said Dr. Akira Ishiyama, associate professor of head and
neck surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

“Armenia and the general Caucuses region have no cochlear implant
centers and hearing-test equipment is very primitive,” he said.
“People often use hearing aids intended for their relatives, making
the devices inappropriate in size and frequency.”

The UCLA trip followed two years of international exchanges between
medical teams in UCLA and Erebouni Medical Center in Armenia. A year
ago, UCLA Medical Center provided cochlear-implant surgical training
to Armenian otolaryngologists Dr. Artur Shukuryan and Dr. Vigen

Last fall, UCLA audiologist Stanton Jones visited the Armenian
hospital to train his professional counterparts. UCLA also sent eight
hearing aids to the medical center, which screened potential
cochlear-implant candidates.

UCLA physicians and nurses donated their time and services to travel
to Armenia and perform the implant surgeries. In addition to Ishiyama
and Jones, team members comprised anesthesiologist Dr. Denise
Hawkins, surgical nurse Diane Sennott and nurse Salpy Akaragian,
director of the UCLA International Nursing Center.

The UCLA mission was sponsored by the Armenian International Medical
(AIM) Fund, which formed last year to help Armenia rebuild its
health-care system. AIM Fund, Southern California Kaiser Permanente,
RENEW and other organizations donated equipment and supplies for the
surgeries. These resources will remain in Armenia to enable local
physicians to perform future cochlear implant surgeries under modern
conditions. Vram Aslanian, the Madikians family and the Republic of
Armenia provided additional financial support.

The UCLA team will be honored by the AIM Fund at a May 23
fund-raising dinner at the Glendale Hilton Hotel. For tickets and
more information, please call (818) 244-7200.