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Wednesday's Health Report: Experimental procedure can bring back throat cancer survivors' voices

1 week 4 hours 33 minutes ago Wednesday, July 10 2024 Jul 10, 2024 July 10, 2024 4:29 PM July 10, 2024 in Health
Source: CNN

BATON ROUGE — It's a rare procedure, but a man in Massachusetts is the third person, in the U.S. to undergo a total larynx transplant.

It allows him to speak again after cancer threatened to take that ability from him forever.

"It's been a long journey,” Marty Kedian said.

Just hearing his voice is a miracle to Kedian. A cancerous larynx and surgeries threatened to steal his ability to speak forever.

"My wife saw me get depressed and a little aggravated because I couldn't talk,” Kedian said, crediting his wife for what happened next.

They took a 2,600-mile trip in February from his home in Massachusetts to Arizona where surgeons at the Mayo Clinic deemed him a candidate in a clinical trial for an extremely rare procedure: a total larynx transplant, including the adjoining tissues glands and blood vessels, thanks to a deceased organ donor.

"The most common question I get is whose voice is it?” David Lott, chair of head and neck surgery, said.

Lott said Kedian’s voice he can now hear is his own, not the donor's.

"The vocal folds and, and, and a very generic way to describe them are kind of like guitar strings. And so their job is to create a sound. And if you think about the guitar, it's the shape and the body of the guitar that creates that signature sound. It's the same thing with our bodies,” Lott said.

His regained voice started as a whisper, but nearly five months after surgery, Kedian's voice was getting stronger. The tracheostomy will remain in his neck for at least a few more months.

"Now that I have a voice back, I'm gonna do everything I can to enjoy every day and make it my best day,” Kedian said.

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