22 Jan 2011

Woman's voice restored after larynx transplant

1:31 pm on 22 January 2011

A woman in the United States is able to speak for the first time in 11 years after a pioneering voicebox transplant.

Brenda Jensen said the operation, which took place in California, was a miracle which had restored her life.

Thirteen days after the surgery she said her first words: "Good morning, I want to go home."

The BBC reports it is the first time a voicebox and windpipe have been transplanted at the same time and only the second time a voice box has

been transplanted.

Ms Jensen, 52, had been unable to speak on her own since her voicebox was damaged during surgery in 1999.

A tube used to keep her airways open injured her throat and scar tissue stopped her breathing.

Since then, she has been unable to taste or smell food, could breathe only through a hole in her windpipe and could talk only with the help of an electronic voice box.

In October, surgeons at the University of California Davis Medical Centre removed the larynx (voicebox), thyroid gland and 6cm of the trachea (windpipe) from a donor body.

In an 18-hour operation this was transplanted into Ms Jensen's throat and the team connected it to her blood supply and nerves.