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The Catalyst

Thirty travel hours to reach your appointment

by Mikie Hayes
Public Relations

Dr. Ted Meyer checks Mei Lin Kallman’s cochlear device he implanted. Photos by Sarah Pack, Public Relations

James and Dewi Kallman could have flown a mere 90 minutes to Singapore for their daughter’s cochlear implant surgery, or even visited a renowned program in nearby Australia. Instead, they chose to make a 30-hour trip from Jakarta, Indonesia to MUSC to put Mei Lin in the care of Ted Meyer, MD, Ph.D., director of the MUSC Cochlear Implant Program. The Kallmans’ confidence in the MUSC team fueled their desire to travel halfway around the world so their daughter, Mei Lin, could be seen by a “staff they love.”

James Kallman, left, and his wife Dewi, right, with their daughter, Mei Lin.

James and Dewi Kallman first noticed a problem with Mei Lin’s hearing at 6 months when she failed to respond to their voices. They visited doctors in Jakarta who provided them with two hearing aids and a return appointment within a year. While James, an American, was visiting the U.S., he asked a doctor if they knew of anything else that could be done for his daughter. A cochlear implant was recommended. The implant is an electronic device that is surgically implanted into the inner ear that uses small electrical currents to bypass damaged parts of the inner ear. A microphone, processor and transmitter are worn externally.

When Mei Lin was age 1, she had her first cochlear implant inserted in her right ear at University of Miami. Her audiologist was Jack King, Ph.D., who later joined the MUSC department of Otolaryngology. At age 6, when doctors suggested she get an implant in her left ear to enhance her hearing and social interaction with others, the Kallmans brought Mei Lin to MUSC. During that visit, they were touched by the treatment they received and delighted to have found a home for Mei Lin’s care.

Dr. Meredith Holcomb covers her mouth as she has Mei Lin Kallman repeat the words she says.  Holcomb is testing Mei Lin’s new cochlear implant in her left ear and adjusting the settings on the sound processor. To see a photo gallery, visit

During late summer 2013, Mei Lin began experiencing issues in her left ear and James emailed Meyer for guidance. Within two weeks, the Kallmans were at MUSC and Mei Lin was examined. Meredith Holcomb, Au.D., discovered the device was malfunctioning; Meyer removed it and implanted a new one. Mei Lin’s ability to hear was restored and she began the next phase of her care with Holcomb, her audiologist, who activated and programmed the speech processor after surgery.

The procedure and testing were successful and the Kallmans couldn’t have been more relieved. James wrote in a note to Meyer: “We all cannot thank you enough for your care for Mei Lin. We placed her inwith hearing. We cannot express our thanks enough.”

Meyer credits the expertise and the comprehensive approach of the team of professionals involved in the program, and praised the work of Holcomb. Of the process, Meyer said, “Surgery in itself is a very small part of what’s involved with a cochlear implant. The evaluation is extremely important. The surgery is important. And post-operatively, the rehabilitation that occurs, either at home as an adult, or with a speech therapist, and at home as a child, is really what’s important for development with speech and language with a cochlear implant.”

In 2013-2014 U.S. News & World Report, MUSC MUSC Ear, Nose and Throat (Otolaryngology) was ranked 27th in the nation. Only 147 facilities of the 4,806 hospitals in the United States reviewed were ranked in one of 16 specialty care areas. MUSC’s Department of Otolaryngology joins an elite group of health care organizations being recognized for their quality care.

James asked Meyer to consider a joint program between MUSC and health care professionals in Jakarta. James is senior partner and president of Mazars, an accounting and consulting firm with more than 13,000 employees and offices in 71 countries. Owing to MUSC’s desire to extend its outreach on a global scale, the request is under consideration, according to Meyer.

Since Meyer has been at the helm of MUSC’s program, the number of cochlear implant procedures has quadrupled. In 2004, Meyer and his staff followed approximately 100 patients. Today, they follow more than 700 patients and perform more than 130 cochlear implant surgeries a year. Meyer said, “It’s considered to be very delicate surgery; however, experienced centers, like MUSC, that do a significant numbers of cochlear implants, are fortunate to have surgeons who are well-trained, have great expertise and experience, and who obtain excellent results.”

November 18, 2013

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