SACRAMENTO, CA – Woman speaks after voice box transplant, but only Spanish!
Last fall Brenda Charette Jenson, 52, underwent surgery to replace her irreversibly damaged larynx. Jenson damaged her vocal cords close to a decade ago during a prolonged hospital stay where she repeatedly pulled out her breathing tube while sedated. Prior to the transplant, Jenson had been able to speak but only with the assistance of a hand held device that made her sound like Twiki from Buck Rogers. She never liked using the electronic device as it always scared children. This was a huge problem for her as she owns and operates a daycare facility.
The surgery that spanned the course of two days involved replacing the voice box, windpipe, and thyroid gland with those of a Latin American donor that choked to death at a Taco Bell while eating a Gordita. Shortly after she recovered from surgery her first words were “Buenos dias” followed by “Yo quiero ir a mi casa” and “¡No joda! ¿Comó demonios es que estoy hablando en español?” Which roughly translates to “Good morning”, “I want to go home” and “What the F***! How the crap am I speaking Spanish?” Needless to say all of the doctors in the room were, ironically, speechless.
“We were truly perplexed by the situation,” said Dr. Johnson, one of the doctors who performed the 18 hour surgery, “We knew that she knew English, but for some reason the vocal cords were only emitting Spanish words.”
Jensen still understands English and of course can read and write as well but doctors have yet to unlock the riddle as to why she can only speak Spanish.
Now close to 4 months since the surgery, Jensen has slowly begun to speak English again albeit with a terribly thick Spanish accent. Breathing still requires the assistance of a tracheotomy tube and she is slowly learning how to swallow again. But Jensen says that the most unusual side affect is, in her own words, “¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!”