Driving home from a session one evening, I was listening to NPR and this story caught my attention:
A surgical team in California on Thursday announced they had done something spectacular: They replaced the larynx of a 52-year-old woman who hadn’t been able to speak or breathe on her own for more than a decade.
Brenda Jensen, 52, damaged her own larynx so severely when heavily sedated back in 1999, that she had to use a voice synthesizer to speak. Her granddaughter had never heard her natural voice.
During an 18-hour surgery last October at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center, doctors removed Jensen’s voice box, her thyroid gland and her trachea. Then, they put a donated organ — from an anonymous accident victim — back into her throat, reconnecting the intricate nerves and muscles needed to bring Jensen’s voice back to life.
This is absolutely astounding. A medical miracle. To have lost something as fundamental as one’s voice, then have it returned to you by the gift of an organ donor, is beyond incredible. Considering the complexity of our vocal instrument (pointed out in Pamela Vanderway’s post from a few weeks ago) and how little we know about how it works, I am overjoyed at the good fortune of Ms. Jensen.
I strongly encourage you to read or listen to the entire piece. Then consider being an organ donor, because it really can save a life. Or a voice.