Berks County baby is one of the youngest US patients to receive bilateral cochlear implants

Monday, July 6, 2020
Baby's hearing restored thanks to surgical implants
Baby's hearing restored thanks to surgical implants

A Berks County baby has her hearing back thanks to the quick action of specialists at Nemours Hospital for Children.

She is one of the youngest patients in the United States to get bilateral cochlear implants.

Little Annalise, now almost 8 months old, has a lot to say.

"She's talking like crazy," dad Ryan Frisco said during a zoom interview.

He and his wife Kelsey say what started as a nightmare experience has a happy ending.

Mid-March, Annalise woke up with a high fever that wasn't coming down. Tests at the hospital revealed it was bacterial meningitis.

At Nemours Hospital for Children, they successfully treated the infection, but Annalise was left with a common complication -- profound hearing loss in both ears.

"There was such a wide array of emotions, first I was so happy she had survived the meningitis and then to find out that diagnosis was pretty heartbreaking as a parent," Kelsey said.

And adding to the stress, this was all happening just as everything was shutting due to the pandemic.

"I first encountered Annalise remotely from my home," Dr. William Parkes, a pediatric otolarynologist at Nemours said.

But when an MRI showed the inner-ear fluid was turning to bone, he knew the team had to work quickly.

Cochlear implants are typically placed around nine to twelve months but if they waited, they would likely not work well.

Annalise was just shy of five months old. Audiologist Yell Inverso said, "she was the youngest that we'd ever done by far."

One month later, the implants were activated.

Due to restrictions, Dad had to be there via video call, but for the first time in six weeks, Annalise could hear her parents' voices.

"Her eyes got wider, stopped sucking on her pacifier, she just really lit up," Kelsey said.