92-year-old Mount Annan resident becomes oldest recipient of middle-ear implant

Jean Bangs having her middle-ear implant switched on.

Jean Bangs having her middle-ear implant switched on.

Jean Bangs has just become the oldest person to ever receive an middle ear implant - and she couldn't be happier.

The Mount Annan resident is 92 years old, but she didn't let her age stop her from taking the plunge and improving her hearing.

The implant will allow Ms Bangs to hear many things that were previously out of her reach - most importantly, the sounds of her large family's voices.

Under the hand of surgeon Dr Simon Greenberg from the Macarthur ENT clinic, Ms Bangs went into surgery on June 26 - as soon as elective surgeries reopened in NSW following the pandemic shutdown - and had her implant (different from a Cochlear implant) switched on on Tuesday, July 28.

She is happy the surgery is finally done and she'll no longer need to make quarterly trips to the doctor to get her ears seen to.

"It feels good," she said.

"I'd been going to see Dr Greenberg for a long time, and a while ago he said, Jean we can do it.

"I didn't worry all that much then and it turned out alright."

Jean Bangs and her surgeon Dr Simon Greenberg

Jean Bangs and her surgeon Dr Simon Greenberg

Ms Bangs said she was a bit nervous before the surgery - "my blood pressure was high" - but she was looking forward to experiencing all the sounds she'd lost in recent years.

"I didn't need much encouragement," she said.

"My left ear used to go deaf, really deaf, for about a week.

"It used to get awful, you could not hear at all and I was always trying to unblock it."

Dr Greenberg said Ms Bangs suffered from a "really difficult ear canal" that was "essentially completely blocked" in addition to her hearing loss, which is why the implant was so vital.

"The reality is, Jean and I [have known each other] for eight or nine years, and for the first eight years we couldn't even talk to each other," he said.

"I think this is actually going to be the beginning of us getting to know each other."

Dr Greenberg said it was Ms Bangs' active lifestyle that really encouraged him to go ahead with the surgery.

"You're always cautious when someone is elderly, but the bigger problem was that she couldn't hear," he said.

"She is an active lady, so it was so isolating not to be able to hear."

Ms Bangs has 13 children and more grandchildren than she can count, and she's keen to surprise them with her new and improved hearing as soon as possible.

She said she would definitely encourage anyone who was nervous about getting a middle ear implant to give it a go.

Ms Bangs received the MED-EL Vibrant Soundbridge Middle Ear Implant and MED-EL SAMBA Audio Processor under the guidance of her audiologist Phillippa Hunt from MAC Hearing in Campbelltown.