The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

October 22, 2012

Local doctor, business leader help kids in China hear again

MANKATO — About five years ago, Glen Taylor came through on a tour of Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato’s department of audiology.

While there he told people about the life-changing trips he makes to remote parts of the world on behalf of the Starkey Foundation, which donates hearing aids to people in need.

During that audiology department tour, Dr. Susan Pearson, an ear, nose and throat specialist, said to Taylor, “If you ever go to China, let me know!”

Why? Pearson speaks Chinese. And she loved the idea of helping people get hearing aids.

She got a phone call a few months ago that has made a deep impact on her outlook and work. It was Taylor.

“He said, ‘Do you want to go to China?”

Pearson said yes.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Pearson — along with Taylor and several dozen other volunteers — spent 10 days in a rural part of China with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, an organization that provides hearing aids to those in need.

Starkey volunteers saw between 600 and 800. Pearson says that, as far as how many patients she’s seen, it’s about the busiest she’s ever been.

And to say the work was rewarding for her may be an understatement.

“It’s unbelievable. You get chills when their eyes are watering,” Pearson said. “It’s truly a mountaintop experience.”

Pearson said the days were long, but she had good company. Taylor, in fact, “trained her in” on how volunteers go about fitting recipients with hearing aids. And he was right there with her the entire time she was there.

But Pearson’s expertise was something the locals seized upon. As a physician who specializes in working with ears, she helped local physicians and gave advice as they examined patients.

“Dr. Pearson went over there as a volunteer, but when they found out what her skills were, they had her handling patients that needed medical care,” Taylor said. “The whole group of people had such a respect for her on her willingness to tackle problems way beyond the hearing aid. And what a lovely person.”

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