Thursday, 6 August 2020
A Cardiff student training to become the UK's first deaf and blind doctor has been shortlisted for a national bravery award. Alexandra Adams from Cardiff is like any other student and has just entered her fourth year of medical school at Cardiff University.
But the 25-year-old, originally from Kent, was born completely deaf and has just 5% vision and is on her way to becoming the UK's first deaf and blind doctor. And now she is one of the 10 people across the UK shortlisted for Brave Britons 2020 awards in the Against All Odds category. Alexandra is one of the 10 people across the UK shortlisted for Brave Britons 2020 awards Speaking to WalesOnline last year, Alexandra, who also suffers a muscular condition, said: "I think my experiences have shown me what makes a good doctor and what makes a bad doctor.
"As I like to say, ‘I may not have as much eyesight as most, but I have more insight than many’ “No disability, background, ethnicity etc should stop you from being an NHS doctor. An NHS doctor can be all of those things.”
Surgeons at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis made history on July 15 when they completed the first case in a clinical trial to restore hearing in patients with vestibular schwannomas, also known as acoustic neuromas.
The July operation at Barnes-Jewish Hospital marked the first use of the MED-EL Auditory Nerve Test System (ANTS) in North America, allowing simultaneous removal of a vestibular schwannoma and placement of a cochlear implant. Conceived by Department of Otolaryngology Chair Craig Buchman, MD, and neurotologist Cameron Wick, MD, the clinical trial received FDA-approval for use of the ANTS under an investigator-initiated investigational device exemption (IDE) from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The MED-EL system allows monitoring of the auditory nerve during tumour removal, opening the door to preserving that nerve and potential hearing rehabilitation with a cochlear implant for these patients. Since that historic case, the department’s skull base team has completed two more successful operations and has two more patients awaiting the procedure. Cameron Wick, MD Chair Craig Buchman MD Craig Buchman, MD, Lindburg Chair, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery “Identifying the auditory nerve during vestibular schwannoma surgery can be challenging because part of the nerve is distorted by the tumour,” said Wick, principal investigator on the trial. Wick, together with Neurotology Chief Jacques Herzog, MD, and neurosurgeon and Department of Neurosurgery Chair Greg Zipfel, MD, participated in the novel surgery.
“Using the ANTS gives us feedback that helps ensure the auditory nerve is healthy during tumour resection and hopefully will be able to carry the cochlear implant signal,” said Wick. “This has the potential to cure the single-sided deafness (SSD) caused by vestibular schwannomas and their treatment.” For the vast majority of patients with a vestibular schwannoma, hearing gradually declines regardless of whether their benign tumour is observed, radiated, or surgically removed. Current hearing rehabilitation options, like CROS hearing aids or osseointegrated implants, fail to restore hearing in the affected ear. The new procedure offers hope that hearing can be restored through the preservation of the auditory nerve and the use of cochlear implants.