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December 4, 2018

Doctor Heeds the Call, Ensures Ed Sheeran Fan Can Hear Concert

By In the Loop

Kate Fossum and her mom had traveled far to hear Ed Sheeran in concert, only to realize they forgot the supplies for Kate's cochlear implants. A late-night call to Mayo turned their luck around.


Kate Fossum had been anticipating the concert for months. She, her mom and some friends had just driven nine hours from their home in Spearfish, South Dakota, to Minneapolis to see — and hear — Ed Sheeran the next day. But now it looked like Kate, who has cochlear implants, might miss the show.

"We got to the hotel around midnight and Kate asked for her ear supplies because her battery had just died," Kate's mom, Lana Fischer, tells us. Although Kate typically kept her ear supplies in her purse, she had decided to leave the purse at home so she wouldn’t lose it at the concert.

Lana froze, remembering the bag of supplies they'd packed, now realizing it had been left behind on the family's kitchen table. The extra batteries Lana usually kept with her were also back home, tucked into a different purse than the one she'd decided to bring. "I had to tell Kate I didn't have them," Lana says. That meant there was no way to charge the specialized batteries that power Kate's implants. Though her daughter handled the news well ("She had just one tear streaming down her cheek"), Lana tells us she "felt like the worst implant parent in the world."

Though it was after midnight, Lana began researching options to get Kate's supplies from Spearfish to Minneapolis. Because of the tight timeframe, the airlines and FedEx weren't options. Lana was losing hope, but before she went to bed, she decided to call Mayo Clinic, where Kate has received care since she began to lose her hearing at age 3. "It was late and a weekend, so I thought I'd get a recording, but to my surprise someone answered," Lana says. The operator connected Lana to the ENT resident on call, Lane Anzalone, M.D., who "patiently listened to my story at 1 a.m.," Lana tells us. "He said he'd talk to his colleagues in the morning, but I really thought his busy schedule would not allow time to help us."

Down in Rochester, Dr. Anzalone —an Ed Sheeran fan himself — was determined to find a solution. "Here was a young woman, who lost her hearing, regained it via surgery and was looking forward to a concert by her favorite artist, but was now facing the possibility of not being able to hear a single sound of the performance," Dr. Anzalone says. It was, he thought, a "life emergency" that deserved the same attention he'd give other emergencies. So the next morning, between caring for patients, he reached out to colleagues for help identifying the type of charger Kate would need and where to find one. After a couple of phone calls, Dr. Anzalone had a lead. He located the charger and reached out to Kate and Lana to confirm it was the one Kate needed. (Check.)

Lana and Kate then drove to Rochester, met Dr. Anzalone, and plugged Kate's batteries into the charger. Four hours later, they picked up the batteries and headed back to Minneapolis. And that night, Kate was one of 50,000 sheerios enjoying a perfect night at U.S. Bank Stadium. "She loved every minute of it," Lana tells us, crediting Dr. Anzalone for giving her daughter memories that will last a lifetime. "For some people, this might not seem like a big deal, but for us it was huge," Lana says. "We would have had a very different outcome without him."

Dr. Anzalone says he was just doing his job. "I don't think what I did was anything extraordinary," he says. "A patient needed help, and I had the opportunity to provide the care. I happened to be on the other end of the line when Kate's mother called in. Undoubtedly, any of my colleagues would have done the same."

Lana still sees it as more. "What he did wasn't a big procedure or a special technique," she says. "It was person-to-person caring. His efforts went above and beyond. I can't tell you how much this meant to us."

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Tags: Cochlear Implant, Dr. Lane Anzalone, Employee Stories, ENT, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Patient Stories

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