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Hagan Visits the Center for the Acquisition of Spoken Language Through Listening Enrichment in Durham

Hagan met Grayson Clamp, the first child to receive an auditory brain stem implant

Friday, August 23, 2013

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Durham, NC - U.S. Senator Kay Hagan today visited the Center for the Acquisition of Spoken Language Through Listening Enrichment (CASTLE) in Durham and spoke about the importance of continued investments in biomedical technology and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). At CASTLE, Hagan met with Len and Nicole Clamp and their three-year-old son Grayson, who was one of the first children in the U.S. to receive auditory brain stem implant to hear sounds without an auditory nerve as part of an FDA-approved investigational trial. Also in attendance was Dr. Craig Buchman, the UNC physician who performed the surgery on Grayson. Dr. Buchman also serves as chair of the Board of Directors of the American Cochlear Implant Alliance, a not-for-profit organization of cochlear implant clinicians

"The hard work and perseverance of Len and Nicole Clamp, Dr. Buchman and his team at CASTLE changed Grayson's life and made him an inspiration to us all," said Hagan. "The incredible progress we have made in cochlear implant technology over the last decade has been partly the result of investment our government has made in research through NIH funding. Grayson is a real life example of how these research investments pay dividends in the long-term, and I am committed to making sure that these smart investments in our future do not become the victims of sequestration and partisan gridlock."

Grayson Clamp was born without his cochlear nerves, or the auditory nerve that carries the sound signal from the cochlea in the inner ear to the brain. He was enrolled in a research trial at University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill, N.C. where he became the first child in the U.S. to receive an auditory brain stem implant. The procedure involved placing a microchip on the brain stem to bypass the cochlear nerves altogether.

"On behalf of the Clamp Family, we are extremely honored to partner with our medical family at UNC Hospitals and UNC Ear and Hearing Center in hosting Senator Hagen so that she can see firsthand their best in class medical intervention, including the surgery and the critical followup that includes audiology and parent-centered therapy," said Len Clamp, Grayson's father. "Grayson can now hear and will one day be able to tell his own story of perseverance and thanksgiving, in large part to the team we have been able to surround ourselves with here in North Carolina."

"As Chair of the American Cochlear Implant Alliance, I welcome Senator Hagan to CASTLE. I am so pleased that Senator Hagan recognizes the importance of critical investments in biomedical research and technology so that kids like Grayson are able to thrive and their families are armed with the tools they need to make the right decisions for them," said Dr. Buchman.

Dating back to the 1970's, the federal government has partnered with doctors and scientists to develop cochlear implant technology through NIH funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In the 2013 fiscal year, 1,631 recipients in NC have benefitted from NIH grants totaling more than $710 million, which will foster new and innovative health breakthroughs. In February, Senator Hagan sent a letter to President Obama urging him to make NIH funding a budget priority. To read more information about that letter, click here.

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