Sunday, September 6, 1998 Published at 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Deaf man in 'bionic' ears breakthrough
The £30,000 operation is the first of its type in the world
A deaf man is set to hear again after pioneering surgeons fitted him with a pair of 'bionic' ears.
For 15 years surgeons have given patients just one implant each.
But for the first time in the world a person has been given twin implants in an operation by Manchester ear experts.
They hope that this will boost hearing from 70% with one implant, to almost normal hearing.
Richard Ramsden, a consultant otolaryngologist at Manchester Royal Infirmary, performed the three-hour operation on 50-year-old Clive Foster-Cooper, from Wakefield in West Yorkshire, last week.
Professor Ramsden said surgeons were eagerly awaiting the opportunity to switch the implants on.
He said: "The operation can make a terrific difference to someone's quality of life.
"But at the moment we really don't know how much a double implant will differ from a single."
Wired for sound
The small tadpole-like implants - containing a microchip, decoder and receiver coil - look like a snail shell and convert sound waves into electrical impulses for the brain to interpret via a behind-the-ear hearing aid.
Mr Foster-Cooper, who mysteriously became deaf five years ago, said after the operation: "I'm wired up for sound and ready to go.
"Now I have the best chance in the world of being able to hear again thanks to the professor and I'm confident I will do so."
But how many more deaf people will be able to follow him is not clear.
Prof Ramsden said: "It's hard enough to get the government and Department of Health to pay for the one £15,000 operation.
"I can't see them jumping at the chance to double the cost."