A TEENAGE girl has become the youngest person in the UK to be fitted with an invisible hearing implant.

Lauren Gibbinson, who lives in Southend, has always had hearing problems but when she reached 13 her hearing became severely impaired.


Charging - the implant has to be re-charged for 30 minutes every day


She suffered from reoccurring ear infections and psoriasis on her scalp and in her ear canals.

The skin condition causes red, flaky patches that can be itchy and painful, which made it difficult to wear conventional hearing aids.

So Lauren was referred to the Hearing Implant Centre at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, and at 15-years-old she has now became the youngest person in the UK to have the Carina middle ear implant fitted.

Lauren, who is now 16, said: “For the first time ever I could hear the wind blowing and birds tweeting.

“I noticed an instant improvement and it was very overwhelming.

“Although I’d been able to hear my family talking when I wore my old hearing aids, I’d never been able to differentiate between their voices. The implant has clearer sound so it was amazing to hear the different tones in their voices.”

The device consists of a rechargeable battery, a signal processor and a microphone, all implanted under the skin.

These are connected to a tiny electromagnetic vibrator which is positioned inside the mastoid bone behind the ear and attaches to the hearing bones. There is nothing showing on the outside of the head, and the ear canal is left open.

Just like a mobile phone, Lauren has to charge the implant for 30 minutes each day. This involves plugging one end of a lead into a portable charging unit and attaching the other end magnetically to the implant under the skin behind her ear. A remote control is used to turn the implant on and off as well as controlling the volume.

Lauren added: “It really has been life-changing and I feel a lot more confident.

“We went on a family holiday in January and for the first time I was able to join in all the activities and enjoy the pool because I didn’t need to take my hearing aids out.”

Lauren’s mum, Denise, said: “The minute it was switched on I spoke and she lifted her head and had the biggest smile on her face. Watching her blossom and her confidence grow has been extraordinary.

“Her quality of life has improved greatly. She used to get ear infections from wearing her old hearing aids but it’s very rare nowadays,

“It was a hard decision to make because the operation had its risks, but it was a million percent the right decision.”