Brenda Jensen speaks again after voice box transplant, voiceless for 11 years (Video)

By on Jan 21, 2011 in Health, Science, United States Comments

Brenda Jensen, a 52-year old woman from Sacramento, California, was voiceless for 11 years but finally speaks again after a successful voice box transplant, according to US news sites.

Jensen, being reported as the second person in the world who survived a voice box transplant, spoke in a news conference on Thursday using her improving voice.

Brenda Jensen
Photo credit: IUCLTV / YouTube

In 1999, Brenda Jensen lost her voice after a surgery where a breathing tube damaged her airway permanently, also losing her sense of taste and smell.

Later, she was able to speak only with the help of a hand-held device that produces an electronic voice, which Jensen said people think of her sounding like a robot.

“After 12 years of a lot of humiliation from the kids, the adults staring at me because I talked with a mechanical machine. Everywhere I was, people turned around.” Jensen said.

But on October 2010, Brenda Jensen underwent a rare and complex voice box transplant at the University of California Davis Medical Center, for 18 long hours, which include windpipe and thyroid gland replacement through a donor who died in an accident.

Two weeks after the voice box transplant, Brenda Jensen was able to speak again, apparently with a weak and hoarse voice; “Good morning” then “I wanna go home” and “You guys are amazing” (referring to her doctors), as shown in the video below.

During the next three months, Ms. Jensen continued the rehabilitation and her voice eventually improved a lot, her doctors said to the news.

“She’s developing sensation and developing movement in the vocal cords.” Dr. Gregory Farwell said, who led the the team that made the voice box transplant surgery.

“Nerves take a long time to regenerate. Her voice will continue to heal.” Dr. Farwell added, who is also the associate professor of Otolaryngology at UC Davis.

“It’s been a long road and a rough road, but every minute of it was worth it.” Brenda Jensen said.

“Now when I talk, my friends who know me from way back say they can hear me in there. I heard myself on a recording the other day and I was amazed.” She added.

The first voice box transplant was performed in 1998 at the Cleveland Clinic, to a certain Tim Heidler, who was then 40 years old.

Brenda Jensen speaks again after 11 years
Photo credit: UCLTV / YouTube

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