This is an important French medical first which took place in Lyon. The teams from the Hospices Civils de Lyon carried out the first larynx transplant on a 49-year-old woman. Thanks to this complex operation, she could regain her voice, lost for 20 years.
After learning of the success of a third uterus transplant in Europe last week, it is another transplant, just as moving, which is making headlines today: the Hospices Civils de Lyon have carried out the first transplant of larynx, the organ of the respiratory system which contains the vocal cords, in Europe. A first which crowns 10 years of research.
A 27-hour intervention
The transplant was carried out on Karine, a 49-year-old patient at the Croix-Rousse hospital in Lyon. The intervention, “extremely complex” according to doctors, lasted “27 hours cumulative”from collection to transplantation, on September 2 and 3.
Ten surgeons were mobilized during this operation, under the direction of Professor Philippe Céruse, head of the hospital’s ENT and head and neck surgery department. The team waited two months before communicating this feat, the time to be sure that the patient was well.
The patient should regain her voice 20 years later
Karine is still hospitalized to this day, but could regain her voice in the coming months, the press release announced. Larynx transplantation is extremely dangerous. It requires a reconnection of the nerves, veins and muscles which intersect with these organs including the vocal cords.
The patient, who had lost the use of speech around twenty years ago, will gradually be able to regain her voice and normal breathing as she learns to activate each small muscle intended to open and close her larynx. and the vocal cords it contains. To do this, surgeons must work using microscopes, simultaneously and precisely for hours and hours. A long-term task, but which should work in the weeks and months to come.
The fourth global transplant of this kind
This French first represents the fourth successful larynx transplant worldwide. The first transplant took place in 1998 in Cleveland, United States, on a 40-year-old patient who had suffered a motorcycle accident. He regained his normal voice three years after the operation.
Thirteen years later, the second also took place in the United States, in which a 52-year-old woman had a thyroid gland and a trachea transplanted at the same time as the larynx.
The third was a Polish procedure in 2015 in which doctors transplanted several throat and neck organs at the same time, including the larynx, trachea, thyroid and esophagus. The patient in remission from cancer was also able to speak again.