Woman Speaks Again After 90% of Tongue Reconstructed From Her Arm
A woman surprised doctors by speaking again after 90% of her tongue was removed. Doctors needed to take a part of it out during a surgery to treat cancer. But thanks to tongue reconstruction, she had it back.
A 37-year-old mom from Cambridgeshire, Gemma Weeks, had problems with her tongue for six years. A small white patch surfaced on the side of her tongue.
In February, a large hole appeared in her tongue, which was very painful. She couldn’t eat due to the pain. Her family rushed her to A&E, and the doctors diagnosed her with stage four neck and mouth cancer.
The doctors advised her to undergo surgery and that they would remove most of her tongue. They also warned her that there was a possibility she wouldn’t speak again.
Gemma said, “They rushed the surgery through because of my age, and the aggressiveness of the tumors.”
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She added, “I was terrified at the thought of never being able to speak again and also to never be able to eat and drink with my mouth.”
On a positive note, her doctors reconstructed her tongue using her arm’s tissue grafts. Gemma defied their assumptions by uttering “hello” a few days after the surgery.
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Although she still has difficulties speaking, she can now have regular conversations. She is grateful to remain alive despite undergoing six weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
In addition, Gemma is overwhelmed by the kindness of the people who support her. Her friend Claire Shafer even started a fundraising campaign.
It is a complicated surgical procedure doctors use to restore the tongue’s function, shape, and form. Patients undergo the procedure after total or partial removal due to cancer, injury, or other medical conditions.
Doctors take tissue from another body part, usually the forearm, to restructure the tongue. They will then shape the tissue and place it in the mouth to make a new tongue.
It will then be attached to the part of the original tongue. A team of specialists normally performs this type of surgery. This includes a nose, ear, and throat surgeon, a plastic surgeon, and a speech therapist.