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Surgeons give patient a voice in an extraordinary procedure


Narrator:          This is Science Today. An international team of surgeons recently performed the world's second larynx transplant on a California woman. Lead surgeon Gregory Farwell of the University of California, Davis Medical Center, says one of the questions that people ask about a larynx or voicebox transplant is what will the actual voice sound like.

Farwell:            Does it sound like the donor, or does it sound like the patient receiving the transplant? Voice is an incredibly complex sound and it's primarily driven by the anatomy of the patient, so her nose, her throat, her lips, her tongue, are what give her the voice, so that her new voicebox gives her a voice that's more similar to hers than the donor.

Narrator:          The complex surgery was an extraordinary feat for the surgeons.

Farwell:            The voicebox has multiple nerves that allow it to talk and breath and putting that all back together required a very long and involved procedure. We brought back together five different blood vessels and five different nerves to give her the best chance of having a voicebox that functions as close to normal as possible.

Narrator:          For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.