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Mayo Clinic Doctors Performs the First Total Larynx Transplant on a Cancer Patient

The doctors at Mayo Clinic in Arizona achieved a huge medical milestone by executing the world's first known whole larynx transplant on a patient with active cancer during a clinical trial. This difficult treatment provides new hope to patients who have lost their capacity to speak, swallow, and breathe normally. 


Dr. David Lott, M.D., chair of Mayo Clinic's Department of Otolaryngology, commented, "The surgery and patient progress have exceeded our expectations." This is a significant success in establishing what we anticipate will be the future of laryngeal transplantation." 

Marty Kedian, a Massachusetts man suffering from a rare form of laryngeal cancer known as chondrosarcoma, underwent a 21-hour transplant that required six doctors. After years of surgery that left him unable to talk or breathe regularly, Kedian discovered a solution at the Mayo Clinic's Larynx and Trachea Transplant Programme. "I was alive, but I wasn't living," Kedian admitted. "I wanted to find a way to get my quality of life back." 

This revolutionary procedure entailed transplanting not just the larynx (voice box), but also portions of the throat, trachea, oesophagus, thyroid, and parathyroid glands. Interestingly, Kedian can now speak, swallow, and breathe on his own. "Mr. Kedian has already regained about 60% of his voice," explained Dr. Lott. "He can eat almost anything and swallow without difficulty. His breathing is steadily improving. 

This is a significant step towards making larynx transplants more commonly available. The doctor stated, "Up until now, we have performed laryngeal transplants as one-offs." "This clinical trial allows us to conduct a true scientific investigation aimed at thoroughly researching the safety and efficacy of laryngeal transplantation as a trusted option for patients." 

Kedian's case is exceptional in that he was already on immunosuppressive medication following a previous kidney transplant. This medication helps to reduce organ rejection but may raise the chance of cancer spreading. "Having a patient with active cancer who already had his own immune suppression allowed us to do the transplant safely," explained Girish Mour, M.B.B.S., the programme's medical director. 

Kedian expresses gratitude for the life-changing procedure. "The team at Mayo has given me my life back," he told me. "I have the deepest gratitude for Dr. Lott's team, particularly the generosity of my organ donor and donor family."

Marshall Strome, M.D., who conducted the world's first whole laryngeal transplant in 1998, complimented the Mayo team and stated, "This case represents a significant milestone. It reflects the future of laryngeal transplantation, in which every patient who requires a total laryngectomy will have the choice of a reconstruction that allows them to keep their quality of life. 

It is worthwhile to note here that a larynx transplant costs between $200,000 and $400,000, which includes surgery, preoperative assessments, and aftercare

Kedian intends to return to Massachusetts and inspire others with his tale. "Mayo and Dr. Lott have helped me regain my quality of life," he told me. I "must improve and show others they can too."


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