Anesthesiology Team Integral to Larynx Transplant

On January 20, 2011, Brenda Charett Jensen underwent an 18-hour operation to replace her larynx. Prior to the transplant, Jensen was unable to speak or breathe normally because of complications stemming from a previous surgery several years ago that closed off her airway and made her completely dependent on a tracheotomy tube. For more than a decade, she has been limited to vocalizing words using a handheld electronic device that produces an artificial, robot-like sound. In order to breathe, she has relied on the tracheotomy, which is still in place and visible at the base of her neck.

Jensen's 18-hour procedure was followed by two months of rehabilitation. Her newly restored voice, while sounding hoarse at times, has improved significantly since the transplant as her nerves regenerate and she learns again how to speak. While the donor organ came from an accident victim, Jensen's voice is her own and not that of the female donor. The transplant has allowed Jensen to smell and taste for the first time in years. She is in the process of relearning to swallow and hopes to soon be able to eat and drink normally again.

Anesthesia care was provided by Dr. Matt Grow and Dr. Sam Kim, along with our call team that included Drs. Gardner, Singh, Tautz, Sandhu, Kungys, Tafoya, Young, and Suchy.