November 19, 2017

Larynx Transplant Enables Woman To Speak With Her Own Voice

larynx transplant

The second recorded larynx transplant was completed giving a woman her voice back. Image courtesy of US Davis Health System.

The miracles of modern medicine oftentimes produce very heart warming results. For Brenda Jensen, the recipient of a larynx transplant, being able to speak with her own voice is tough to put into words.

For eleven years, Jensen has had to breath through a tracheotomy tube and use a robot sounding hand held device to speak. Her larynx was damaged during a stay in the hospital due to her continually pulling out her breathing tube.

Surgeons from both the United States and Europe got together at the UC Davis Medical Center, forming a medical dream team of sorts, to perform the operation. The time intensive and delicate process of connecting implanted parts such as the trachea, thyroid and larynx took 18 hours to complete. The transplants had to be connected to the nervous system and cardiovascular system as well. This included two veins, five nerves, and three arteries.

This is the second larynx transplant on record. The first was performed on Tim Hiedler back in 1998.

What’s remarkable about the surgery is that Jensen is able to speak in her own voice despite using someone else’s larynx. Although she’s still breathing through a tracheotomy tube and eating through a feeding tube, doctors believe she will make a full recovery being able to eat, drink and breathe normally.