Pictured: Grayson Clamp hears for the first time (Courtesy UNC Health Care)
CHAPEL HILL – Three-year-old Grayson Clamp heard sound for the first time in his life three weeks ago thanks to a team of UNC doctors. Grayson’s miraculous story is now being reported worldwide, with CNN, the Today Show, and the Daily Mail in the United Kingdom, sharing his triumph.
Dr. Craig Buchman, Chief of the Division of Otology/Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery in the UNC School of Medicine, headed up the ground-breaking procedure.
“Many years ago, it became apparent that this device might be helpful for children with this particular problem. It’s been a culmination of a lot of years of working towards trying to do this for a limited number of children who are candidates,” Buchman said.
Dr. Buchman was in the room when Grayson was able to hear for the first time.
“We’re ecstatic that he’s doing well, that the parents are happy, and we just couldn’t feel better about the whole thing,” Buchman said.
To see the video of when Grayson hears for the first time, click here.
Grayson was born without a cochlear nerve, which transmits sound information from the cochlea to the brain. After Len and Nicole Clamp adopted Grayson, they began working with UNC doctors to help him hear. Doctors first tried a cochlear implant, but because he was born without the cochlear nerve, it was ineffective, as there was nothing to stimulate.
The family then decided to move forward with the auditory brain stem implant, which had been used for adults, but hadn’t been tested for use in children in the United States.
The procedure requires doctors to implant a microchip in a patient’s brain. The microchip then helps the patient recognize and process sound by electrically stimulating the brain stem.
“And so the frequencies are allocated to the individual electrodes, and the brain is left to sort out those details,” Buchman said.
Grayson will continue to work on recognizing and understanding speech. Doctors say he already showing signs of improvement.