Johnson is a coffee farmer who lives about an hour away from Nairobi with his wife and son. In January 2015, he noticed his voice getting softer. One day that summer, he began having difficulty breathing. He had an emergency tracheotomy and biopsy showing that he had laryngeal cancer. Two weeks later, in October 2015, he traveled to Malindi to visit our annual surgical camp. He underwent a surgical procedure called a laryngectomy, which is a removal of the voice box. That means he has to relearn how to talk.
Last year, he met with our speech therapist, Jenn Starkweather from InHealth Technologies, to learn what to expect after surgery. This year, he met with Jenn again. Jenn introduced him to Abdullah, who had a laryngectomy three years ago with another team, and was able to demonstrate speaking with an electrolarynx for Johnson. An electrolarynx is a device that creates vibrations to turn into speech. It was fantastic to witness these two patients helping each other with Jenn's oversight.
Johnson's progress with the electrolarynx is already impressive! With practice, he will have little difficulty making himself understood.