- Published on 06 December 2018
John Rice, a 1990's pioneer in Australian cochlear implant surgery for deaf children got his very own bionic hearing boost after an operation performed by one of his proteges.
Former ENT surgeon, Rice, assisted on one of the first ever cochlear implant surgery procedures down under, back in the 90s, performed on a child in Melbourne by Rob Webb. But last week, Rice found out what his many young patients had experienced as their implants were switched on for the first time. Back then, operations took around four hours; Rice's op, performed by one of his own proteges, Michael Schulz, from Adelaide's Memorial Hospital, was a 90-minute job, standard for today's advanced surgical and technical conditions.
Rice first heard some high-frequency noises like mouse squeaks. But subsequent therapy helped a more real soundscape take shape, as he had hoped. John was soon able to talk of the success of the operation having, according to his wife Jenny, become "isolated and withdrawn" because of his own hearing difficulties.
"I'm hearing much more and better with this than I ever thought I would — it's wonderful, absolutely," he said.
Meanwhile, operating on his mentor had been a daunting prospect for Dr. Schulz. "It was a bit of an odd feeling, particularly that he was coming to see me about his hearing loss." said the surgeon.