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MRI hosts Channel 4's Breaking the Silence: LIVE - Tuesday

Manchester Royal Infirmary will host a ground-breaking observational documentary next week as 'Breaking the Silence: Live' airs on Channel 4. The programme features our Cochlear Implant team and our patients who will have their devices switched on, live on air.

The implant, an electronic device that stimulates the inner ear, can replace hearing that has been lost and gives access to sounds that users were previously unaware of. The programme provides privileged access to this potentially huge life-altering moment, as it happens.

Several weeks ago, each person - some of whom have been profoundly deaf since birth, and some of whom have lost their hearing as recently as six months ago - underwent surgery to have their cochlear implant fitted.

On the night of transmission, the instant when each person's implant is switched on is broadcast live from The Richard Ramsden Centre for Hearing Implants at Manchester Royal Infirmary. It is at that moment that they, their loved ones and viewers discover if and what they can hear.

The reaction to a cochlear implant 'switch on' can be very hard to predict. Some patients report hearing speech clearly, others may only hear whistles and beeps, which in time will develop into more meaningful hearing. How much hearing an implant provides is unique to each individual and often they require follow-up care to fine-tune them.

The programme will be broadcast from the Richard Ramsden Centre for Hearing Implants on Channel 4, Tuesday 22nd November at 8.00pm.

Make sure you tune in to see our very own Cochlear Implant team in action! Watch the trailer here: 


Find out more about our patients who are taking part in the show...


Charles, 76, has had problems with his hearing for 20 years; it's got progressively worse, and he's been classed as profoundly deaf for the last five. Despite this, he still plays the organ every Sunday in church.Charles

Charles met his wife Norma through their church in Stockport- she sings in the choir- and they got married 12 years ago. It was a surprise for them both to find love later in life- they'd both been married before, and were widowed.

Charles is worried his organ playing is no longer up to scratch- he simply can't tell anymore, he just looks down to make sure he's pressing the right keys and hopes for the best: "It's very annoying to me that I can't hear the sounds I'm making… it's frustrating and at times heart breaking." He tells the vicar to 'stick to the script' so he knows when the right pause in the sermon comes to act as his cue, otherwise he's lost. Norma says that, remarkably, his playing is as good as ever and when people hear him play they can't believe he's so deaf: "He's never had any lessons but I think he's one of the best organists I've ever heard."

Charles is a joker and a raconteur, so he's found being deaf very hard. In his more serious moments he will admit his deafness makes him feel inadequate and cut off from other people. Norma says they've lost the art of conversation since his hearing became so poor, something she'd desperately love to get back. Charles says: "I'm hoping that I'll get a modicum of my hearing back. I'm hoping that if I do I'll be able to enjoy the music that I used to enjoy to its fullest extent and that I'll be less of a pain to everybody by continuously asking 'what did he say'? and 'pardon'? If that can be done away with, I will be very happy."



48-year-old cheese maker John began to gradually lose his hearing five years ago. Along with his wife Judith, he's being supported in his bid to have a cochlear implant by his best friend and next-door neighbour, Peter.

JohnTwo years ago, Peter had a stroke and temporarily went deaf. John was a rock to his friend during his recovery and Peter found out just how limiting and frustrating hearing loss could be. Now the tables have turned and it's Peter who is motivating and supporting John. It's Peter who has persuaded his initially reluctant friend to get a cochlear implant, because he would dearly love to see him come out of his shell and start living life to the full again: "I think he just withdrew a bit from society. Obviously having me as a neighbour, knocking on his door all the time and asking and asking and not giving up, sort of changed his mind a little bit... we have a laugh together, we've maintained that all the way through it and our relationship's built on trust and fun."

Like many people living with hearing loss, John says he tries to avoid group socialising because he feels totally left out of conversations: "A lot of people don't have a lot of patience with you when you're deaf. You repeat yourself once and that's it. You get a lot of tuts and you think, I don't want to have to put people through that… so I just keep myself away from everybody and it's easier being on your own than it is trying to communicate. It makes you a bit of a hermit, really."

He struggles to hear his work colleagues and finds it hard to communicate with his wife - something she feels is putting their relationship under stress: "We just don't have that time anymore to talk, or if I have a problem and try to talk to John he can't hear me. I get frustrated, he gets frustrated."

John hopes the implant will have a huge impact on his life: "I'm looking forward to really being able to join in. Not always the person that's sat there looking into space or looking out of the window or down at table because I can't hear anybody…It can't be any worse than it is now - it's got to be better. I've got to try it. I don't really want to live the rest of my life being like this, something needs to change. It has to change."



Marion, 69, had normal hearing until two years ago- one morning she woke up and could barely hear a thing. Her hearing came and went, baffling specialists, until around a year ago when she went completely deaf... and this time, the hearing didn't come back: "I had an alarm clock by the bed with a very loud tick... I would wake up every morning hoping to hear the tick, and couldn't. It took me a while to realise that I wasn't going to hear the tick."

As deafness is relatively new for her, she finds lip reading a struggle, and mostly communicates with her husband Ron via the notebooks piled up in her living room, or an iPad. They no longer engage in chit chat and jokes; their communication is reduced to functionality. Ron says: "Talking is one of the things that we really really miss now, over dinner or going out with friends, not being able to have that relationship. It's difficult when you have to write everything down because to be able to express your true emotions is tough."

Marion had been leading a very sociable, active retirement up until her hearing went. She was president of her local Women's Institute, used to love going away on holiday with Ron, used to enjoy having friends round to their home for meals - but all of these things have now stopped.

To get her hearing back would be, "A gift whose value is beyond words", she wants to "Feel less vulnerable, and to really feel that we've got our partnership back again."

Most of all, Marion says she'd like to be able to hear Ron say, "I love you," once more.