A team of doctors at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, successfully created the world’s first voice box reconstruction.
Cooper has breathed through a tracheostomy, a hole in his throat that extends into his windpipe since he was born because he was diagnosed with congenital high airway obstruction syndrome, a rare illness with an extremely high mortality rate, while he was still in the womb. The condition caused him to be born without a larynx or an airway.
“The mortality rate’s easily high 90% for this diagnosis, possibly even higher,” said Dr. Jerome Thompson, an Otolaryngologist at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
Using parts of Cooper’s ribs, doctors were able to create a voice box and airway for him. It’s something that was never successfully done before.
“We planned for this surgery from day one of Cooper’s life,” Dr. Jerome Thompson, said in a statement.
Cooper will continue to see surgeons every two weeks for new procedures to mold his new airway. His mother Brooke Kilburn said she’s hoping that by December, the team will finally get the shape they want and let him explore his new voice.
“One day Cooper is going to be telling this and we’re not gonna have to,” said Kilburn. “We can just sit back and think how strong he is.”