When we get in the car, whether we are a passenger or a driver, we are at risk of getting into an accident and becoming paralyzed. If we live in Florida during hurricane season, we are at risk of experiencing a hurricane and losing all our property. If we live in or travel to California, we are at risk for earthquakes. People choose not to travel to Israel because of the possibility of violence. Children play with toys that possibly have lead and thus, they’re at risk of harming themselves. People eat spinach that could possibly have E coli or beef that could possibly cause Mad Cow Disease. People could choose to avoid roller coasters because of the possibility of accidents. And, finally, deaf people could choose not to get an implant because of the possible risks.
We face risk every day in our lives. If we stopped to think about all the possible risks, we couldn’t get our minds around it all. We would certainly make ourselves crazy if we worried about all the possible risks. If we choose to avoid all possible risks, we would have no life, and we would be just sitting in a chair and drinking some tea all day long.
I’m amazed by how certain people in the deaf community love to nitpick, make possible CI risks a major deal and look at them as a half empty glass while the risks are usually avoidable, fixable, and improvable, and companies, surgeons and audiologists who are committed, and committed parents are willing to take every step necessary to protect the health and well being of CI users. Advanced Bionics voluntarily recalled their devices by sending out letters to all the AB users and was willing to foot the bill out of their pocket for reimplantation. This demonstrates how AB was open about their failure.
When I was going through two implant failures, rather than just sitting and whining at the CI company that it was not fair that I had to go through two failures, my parents made contacts with various people to make sure that we were pursuing the right direction with reimplantation to ensure that my reimplantation would go well. From my personal experiences, I know that Cochlear, whose implant I have, is committed to researching what causes CIs to fail and is willing to take every step to improve it. Cochlear requires surgeons to send all of the failed internal implants to their research group in Sydney so that they can find out what caused the failure and figure out how to prevent the same failure in the future. My first CI failure happened because the silicone seal between the electrode array and the receiver ruptured. My first implant was one of the very early ones, and Cochlear had already identified the weakness in this area and corrected the problem many years before my first failure occurred. Even with my first CI having that area of identified weakness, it still lasted over 13 years, and I know others whose CIs are from the same period and are still going strong over 20 years later.
Neither Cochlear nor my surgeon knows the cause of my second CI failure. The explanted internal part of my implant was sent to Cochlear’s research group, and they were still unable to find the cause. However, I’m confident that they continue to research the causes of failures as they strive to improve their products and the lives of deaf people who want to hear with cochlear implants. When I was at the Cochlear convention last year, a cochlear implant engineer from Australia gave a fantastic presentation on how Cochlear manufactures their cochlear implants. He said that at least HALF of the cochlear implants that are produced are THROWN in the garbage because they are not perfect. They test every single one of their internal implants thoroughly to ensure its best quality.
So, as I said, there are so many risks we face every minute of the day. Should we not allow children to play with toys at all because of the risk of lead or choking hazards? Should we not go to Florida and enjoy the sunny beaches because of possible hurricanes? Should we not drive at all because we could face the risk of becoming paralyzed if an accident occurs? Should we not have fun screaming through the roller coaster ride? Instead of complaining and avoiding every possible risk, let’s work on striving for improvements and better quality of life.
Car manufacturers are always researching to refine the quality of cars in order to prevent serious injuries in accidents. Toy companies strive to improve the quality of toys to ensure that children can play with them safely. Builders in California and Florida strive to enhance the quality of homes to prevent the loss of life and property. Food manufacturers strive to improve the quality of food to ensure that we’re eating safely. CI manufacturers are in the same bucket as all these other businesses.