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'Miracle' as woman speaks for first time in 11 years

A woman who has not uttered a word for more than a decade has had her speech restored thanks to a pioneering transplant.

Brenda Jensen was unable to speak or breathe on her own before the operation -- only the second time a voice box transplant has been performed worldwide.

She described the operation as a "miracle" and a "new beginning", adding: "This operation has restored my life."

Yesterday, she met the full international surgical team who performed the transplant, carried out at the University of California's Davis Medical Centre.

Ms Jensen (52) had not spoken for 11 years after complications during surgery for kidney failure in 1999 harmed her voice box.

The breathing tube used in the procedure damaged her throat and caused scar tissue, which meant she could not breathe unaided.

She was dependent on a tracheotomy tube for breathing and was only able to communicate through a handheld electronic device.

In an 18-hour operation in October, surgeons replaced her larynx, thyroid gland and trachea, restoring not only her speech but the ability to taste and smell.

Just 13 days after the operation, Ms Jensen, from Modesto, California, spoke to doctors and her family.

Lead surgeon on the transplant, Dr Gregory Farwell said: "We are absolutely delighted with the results of this extraordinary case."

Irish Independent