George Negus Tonight - Professor Graeme Clark
For quite a few years now, we have probably been referring to it as the 'bionic ear'. But to its creator, Professor Graeme Clark, it's the 'multiple-electrode cochlear implant'. This thing, an Australian invention, has been hailed as one of the most significant breakthroughs ever in medical science. It's the first and, so far, the only device that actually restores brain function prosthetically.
As a child, Graeme Clark apparently had an inventive streak that led to all sorts of antics in the family laundry in the name of scientific experimentation. Later, at uni, he topped medicine and became consumed by an almost overwhelming urge to make discoveries. And this eventually led to the implant idea. For years the Professor copped plenty of scepticism and even ridicule from his own profession, until a major breakthrough in 1978, when a Clark implant allowed Rod Saunders, who'd lost his hearing at 46, to hear again.
Twenty five years later, more than 50,000 people worldwide have benefited from his life-enhancing little device. His childhood and family life not only had a significant bearing on the career of this most remarkable inventor, it actually caused it.
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