MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WTVO/CNN) — Tennessee doctors made history by successfully creating the world’s first voice box reconstruction for 2-year-old boy Cooper Kilburn.
Kilburn was born with congenital high airway obstruction system. This means his trachea and larynx were blocked, and he would have no voice or way to breathe, CNN reported.
The boy’s doctor, Dr. Jerome Thompson, an Otolaryngologist at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, said that if he didn’t notice this on an ultrasound Kilburn would have died as soon as he was born.
What led to the ultrasound was Kilburn’s mom, Brooke Kilburn, had gotten into a car crash while she was 17 weeks pregnant with Cooper.
“If it hadn’t been recognized on ultrasound because of that freak accident, and if you’re religious, that accident is what brought all of this about. And otherwise, when Cooper was born, he was going to die,” Dr. Thompson said.
After finding the condition on an ultrasound, they had fetal surgery on Cooper when he was 22 weeks, CNN reported.
“We had fetal surgery at 22 weeks so Cooper would’ve just eventually had his first ultra a week or two prior to that and it would’ve been too late,” Brooke Kilburn said.
CNN reported that this first surgery wasn’t fully successful.
Doctors implanted a trach in Cooper’s throat and gave him a ventilator, but he still at risk for not being able to talk, CNN reported.
Two years later, they tried again, and this time using parts of Cooper’s ribs. Doctors were able to successfully make a voicebox and airway for Cooper.
“I’d say my whole career has been preparing me for this,” Dr. Thompson said.
CNN reported that now five months later, Cooper is beginning to make noises and is only using his ventilator at night.
“One day cooper is going to be telling this and we’re not gonna have to,” Brooke Kilburn said.
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