After losing her speech more than a decade ago, Brenda Jensen became isolated from friends and was teased for using an electronic device that made her sound like a robot.
Today, the 52-year-old Modesto woman has her voice back thanks to a rare transplant surgery at the University of California Medical Center in Sacramento.
An international team of surgeons replaced Jensen's larynx, or voicebox, in an 18-hour operation in October.
It was only the second successful larynx transplant documented in medical literature. The first was at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio in 1998.
The surgeons could not tell if their delicate work was a success until 13 days after the operation, when they went to Jensen's hospital bed and asked her to speak.
"I want to go home," she said in a hoarse voice and then broke into a smile.
Friends and family members now are amazed when she speaks, including 12-year-old granddaughter Samara who had never heard the sound of Jensen's voice.
"When she called me from the hospital and I talked with her for the first time, Ibawled," said Kathryn Versteegh, Jensen's daughter. "It was amazing for her to produce sound and actually talk."
Jensen, who returned home from the hospital Nov. 11, will reunite with the surgical team at a news conference this morning at the UC Medical Center.
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