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Laryngectomy developments

A laryngeal transplant 

In October 2010, Brenda Jensen received a new larynx at the University of California Davis, Sacramento, California. This was the world’s second documented laryngeal transplant, and as with the first, has been a success. Although she retains a tracheostomy, she can speak very normally (see picture).

 

She took a good 8-10 months to resume normal swallowing, but can now eat or drink anything. At her press conference, she said ‘I don’t know what the future may bring, but it sure will be better than what we’ve left behind’.

 

I often include this in my talks, since it now only refers to her special case, but also to the fact that science is now bringing us a new generation of amazing technologies which will transform what we are able to do for patients, including laryngectomees, in years to come.

 

So whilst Brenda’s case was an highly exceptional one and we do not propose routine laryngeal transplantation for most circumstances requiring laryngectomy, there is considerable hope that one day life without a ‘larynx’ will no longer be necessary.

 

Martin Birchall

 

 

 

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