CNN

Child born without larynx or airway receives historic voice box reconstruction

Aug 6, 2019, 4:27 PM | Updated: 4:35 pm
Two-year-old Cooper Kilburn was born without a larynx or airway....
Two-year-old Cooper Kilburn was born without a larynx or airway.

(CNN) — Brooke Kilburn’s doctors told her there was a 5% chance she’d ever meet her unborn son.

But Cooper survived his birth — and then spent 324 days in the neonatal intensive care unit.

At 2 years old, her son’s beaten the odds again, this time as the recipient of the world’s first successful total voice box reconstruction.

Doctors at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, performed the procedure in February, the hospital said in a statement.

Cooper was diagnosed with congenital high airway obstruction syndrome, a rare illness with an extremely high mortality rate, while he was still in the womb. Because of the condition, he was born without a larynx or an airway, said Kilburn, of Adamsville, Tennessee.

Since birth, he’s breathed through a tracheostomy, a hole in his throat that extends into his windpipe.

Two-year-old Cooper Kilburn was born without a larynx or airway.

His team of physicians at Le Bonheur decided that when Cooper turned 2, they’d aim to help him breathe without it.

“We planned for this surgery from day one of Cooper’s life,” Dr. Jerome Thompson, an otolaryngologist who treated Cooper, said in a statement.

On February 27, years of planning came to fruition when doctors performed the four-hour surgery. They built Cooper’s voice box using two of his ribs, according to the hospital. It was Cooper’s eighth surgery in two years, the hospital said.

“It was a nerve-wracking surgery because there were so many unknowns,” Kilburn said. “We had no idea as to what they were actually going to find when they got in there.”

In May, he made a sound for the first time, according to the hospital. It’ll take a few more years to wean him off the tracheostomy so he can breathe on his own completely, she said, but the surgery gave him a great start.

Cooper will continue to see surgeons every two weeks for new procedures to mold his new airway. Kilburn said she’s hoping that by December, the team will finally get the shape they want and let him explore his new voice.

“Cooper is a miracle,” she said. “There’s just no other way to look at it.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team. here.

Today’s Top Stories

CNN

U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later...
Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood, Jeremy Herb and MJ Lee, CNN

WNBA star Brittney Griner released from Russian detention in prisoner swap for convicted arms dealer

The Biden administration repeatedly made offers to get Whelan released as part of this deal, even after Russia made clear only Griner was acceptable.
17 hours ago
...
Jeff Zeleny, Eva McKend and Gregory Krieg, CNN

Georgia voters once again have the last word during election season

During a campaign rally for Warnock in Atlanta last week, former President Barack Obama stressed the immediate impact of Democrats potentially winning a 51st Senate seat.
3 days ago
This photos shows the gate to the Duke Energy West End substation in Moore County, N.C. on Sunday, ...
Nouran Salahieh and Hannah Sarisohn, CNN

Tens of thousands still in the dark after ‘targeted’ attacks on North Carolina power substations

With no suspects or motive announced, the FBI joins the investigation into power outages in a North Carolina county.
3 days ago
Man who shot Lady Gaga's dog walker...
Taylor Romine and Elizabeth Wolfe, CNN

Man involved in shooting Lady Gaga’s dog walker sentenced to prison

The dog walker, Ryan Fischer, was walking Lady Gaga's three French bulldogs on February 24, 2021 when he was accosted and shot.
3 days ago
goblin mode...
Christian Edwards, CNN

‘Goblin mode’ chosen as Oxford word of the year for 2022

According to OUP, the term refers to a behavior which is "self-indulgent, lazy, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations."
4 days ago
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19:  The U.S. Capitol is shown as a looming government shutdown threatens ...
Manu Raju and Phil Mattingly, CNN

Defense bill likely to include end to military Covid vaccine mandate, source says

A massive bill setting defense policy is likely to end the military Covid vaccine mandate, a source familiar with the negotiations tells CNN.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Child born without larynx or airway receives historic voice box reconstruction