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Associate Professor Catherine Birman

Renowned surgeon celebrates 1000 cochlear implant surgeries


 Associate Professor Catherine Birman celebrates 1,000 cochlear implant surgeries
Associate Professor Catherine Birman celebrates 1,000 cochlear implant surgeries

Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) celebrated a significant milestone this month when Associate Professor Catherine Birman, Medical Director of SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, performed her 1,000th cochlear implant surgery.

As a prominent Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon, A/Prof Birman knows how important technology is for children and adults experiencing moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss.

“It is a great honour to be part of so many different people’s journeys to better hearing,” said A/Prof Birman. “Technology has come a long way since Professor Graeme Clark’s first cochlear implant recipient in 1978, with SCIC recipients receiving a cochlear implant at ages from 3 months to 95 years and hearing through the cochlear implant getting better and better.”

21 year old university student Jessica Liang from Auburn, received her second cochlear implant this month from A/Prof Birman.

Jessica was diagnosed with profound hearing loss at 12 months of age and hasn’t looked back since receiving her first cochlear implant at just 22 months.

“I cannot imagine a world without sound. My cochlear implant has allowed me to dream big, explore opportunities and connect with other people around me. Deafness is not a hindrance, but an amazing part of my identity which I have used to leverage myself to greater ambitions,” said Jessica.

Jessica was excited to receive her second cochlear implant.

“I was nervous but also excited about receiving my second cochlear implant and I’m very much looking forward to hearing sounds through my right ear and no longer having to adjust my position accordingly,” said Jessica.

Jessica recommends others struggling with their hearing to investigate the options available.

“Don’t be afraid to shout out to the world about your deafness. I know you might be struggling with your hearing, I struggled at one point but everyone has his or her own challenges. Did you know that by 2050, 1 in 4 Australians are projected to have some form of hearing loss? You’re not alone so step up to the challenge and take action to educate yourself on your hearing levels and set daily goals to manage your hearing,” said Jessica.

SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, an RIDBC service, supports clients to access a range of implantable hearing devices according to their needs. The program provides a seamless, end-to-end suite of services, from early intervention and education; through to specialist assessment; surgical liaison and support; and rehabilitation services, delivering the highest level of care and support to all ages.

A/Prof Birman was the first female ear, nose and throat surgeon in Australia to be awarded the title of Clinical Associate Professor, relating to her contribution to the field of cochlear implantation and other implantable devices.

A/Prof Catherine Birman is a specialist adult and paediatric cochlear implant surgeon, otologist, and paediatric ENT surgeon with the Department of ENT at Macquarie University Hospital.  She is a Clinical Associate Professor at Sydney University and a Conjoint Professor at Macquarie University.  As well as working at Macquarie University Hospital she holds positions at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, RPAH, Hornsby Hospital and the Sydney Adventist Hospital.

A/Prof Birman is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Head of Department at Hornsby Hospital, Medical Director of the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre, and a member of the Board of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children.  She has been the past Chair and Vice-Chair of the NSW Australian Society of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, and past Secretary for the Australian New Zealand Paediatric Otolaryngology Society.

For more information about cochlear implants or SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, visit or call 1300 658 981.

RIDBC is a charity and Australia’s largest non-government provider of therapy, education and cochlear implant services for people with hearing or vision loss, supporting thousands of adults, children and their families, each year.

RIDBC relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in people’s lives.

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