Dr. Marshal Strome of Cleveland Clinic created a break through in ENT surgery by conducting the first successful larynx transplant in 1998. Timothy Heidler, the recipient of the transplant is not able to speak with a perfectly normal voice after his throat was crushed in the motorcycle accident. He had been unable to speak normally for 20 years. The lucky recipient is now giving motivational speeches to other patients and support groups.
Doctors replaced Heidler's larynx, or voice box, along with part of his trachea, throat and nerves. Because they didn't want to disrupt the larynx's blood supply, they also transplanted the nearby thyroid and parathyroid glands, too. The patient now has two thyroid glands, both of which appear to work, as well as eight parathyroid glands.
AdvertisementFor three months following the surgery Heidler could not swallow. But he began to regain sensation as the nerves grew together, and within another month he could eat anything.
Dr. Strome said he hopes next to perform the operation on someone whose voice box has been removed because of cancer, and who has been disease free for atleast 5 years. Such an operation may be even more challenging because it could be difficult to locate the ends of nerves that were cut during the cancer surgery.