Jérémy Gabriel

August 15, 2011 by Michèle Veilleux
Jérémy Gabriel
We have all heard the name of Jérémy Gabriel uttered at some point or another. He is the boy with Treacher Collins syndrome* who, in 2006, performed a song for Pope Benedict XVI. At 14 years old, Jérémy is now enrolled in École Cardinal-Roy’s integrated arts program, after having graduated from the École oraliste de Québec pour enfants malentendants ou sourds. Still with plenty of ideas brewing in his mind, Jérémy now sports the brand-new BAHA BP100, presenting him with a fresh set of challenges.

Jérémy’s BAHA

Jérémy wears a bone conduction hearing aid, commonly referred to as a BAHA implant. Generally speaking, the BAHA is designed for people with hearing loss due to a middle- or inner-ear disorder. This can include the absence or abnormal formation of the outer ear, or a dysfunction of the middle ear (tympanum and/or ossicles). The BAHA is also suitable for individuals who cannot wear conventional hearing aids as a result of an otologic condition preventing their continual use, such as chronic otitis, psoriasis or otorrhea. On the other hand, to be suitable for a BAHA, candidates must have normal to near-normal inner-ear function.

How does the BAHA work?

Basically, the BAHA consists of an abutment (a small titanium implant) that is placed surgically in the mastoid bone behind the ear. Following a recovery
period during which the implant fuses with the bone (a process known as osseointegration), a device called a bone conductor (or sound processor) is attached to the implant. This processor transfers sound to the cochlea by converting signals to vibrations in the mastoid bone.

The BAHA BP100

Only recently was Jérémy able to obtain a fully digital conductor, meaning one that is computer programmed: the BAHA BP100. This model used technological developments that are new to the world of BAHAs, allowing for better sound quality and greater flexibility in terms of adjustments. Replacing the previous processor, the new one simply attaches onto the implant like a snap fastener.

The price of a BAHA

The initial cost for a BAHA is about $6,500, not including the surgeon’s and other professionals’ fees. And even though they are necessary in many cases, the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec does not cover these implants. Patients thus have two options: they can either pay for it themselves or apply for assistance through various foundations, such as the Shriners Hospitals for Children affiliated with the Montréal Children’s Hospital or the MUHC or Sainte-Justine UHC foundations. Recently, a pilot project was conducted at the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec hospital, in which some 15 patients received BAHA implants paid for through a special budget granted by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux.

Fondation Jérémy Gabriel

Since most foundations will not cover the cost of replacing the processor, Jérémy decided to set up his own foundation, the Fondation Jérémy Gabriel, to increase access to BAHA implants. Any proceeds from Jérémy’s appearances at various events will be donated to his foundation. www.jeremygabriel.com.

Don’t hesitate to consult your audiologist at one of the Lobe Santé auditive et communication multidisciplinary clinics for more information.

* Treacher-Collins syndrome is a hereditary disease characterized by facial defects and, in most cases, conductive hearing loss caused by abnormal outer/middle ear formation or chronic otitis.