Woman Gets Back Voice After 30 Years

More than 30 years ago, Betty Lou Trufant lost her voice as a result of a cold. It never came back.

The illness paralyzed one of her vocal cords. Reduced to little more than a whisper for decades, her search for a cure eventually led her to Cleveland Clinic.

Avoiding most social contact with people, she says it became easier to just not go out than to deal with the frustration of not being able to talk to people.

After struggling to raise her daughter and maintain any semblance of normalcy with her family, Betty Lou saw a story about Erin Martin. Martin was a patient who, like Betty Lou, had lost her voice. After seeking voice treatment at the Cleveland Clinic, Martin was able to regain her speech through the power of vocal massaging.

Betty Lou had come to terms with not being able to speak again, but Martin's story gave her newfound hope.

"I am just thrilled to death. I will be forever thankful."

She made the trip from Westbrook, Maine to Cleveland to meet with Michael Benninger, MD, chairman of the Head & Neck Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Benninger made the decision to operate on Trufant in hopes to repair her vocal cords.

Vocal folds, also known as vocal cord paralysis, result from abnormal nerve input to the voice box muscles. Paralysis begins with the total interruption of nerve impulse.

"Probably 25 to 35 percent of the people we see who have a paralyzed vocal fold, have it due to a virus," says Dr. Michael Benniger.

Dr. Benninger inserted an implant in her throat, designed to push the paralyzed vocal cord back into place. This would allow the vocal cords to touch again and create sound.

The difference between Betty Lou's voice was apparent in days. Her daughter, Darcelle Jacbos, couldn't even remember her mother's speaking voice, but could now have full conversations with her. Best of all, Betty Lou finally got to speak to her grandson, Trey.

"I am just thrilled to death," says Betty. "I will be forever thankful."

Related Institutes: Head & Neck Institute
Patient Stories

Patient Stories

“Healthy Medina" members Betty DeMatteo (left) and Pat Yankovic incorporate daily exercise into their wellness plan.

“Healthy Medina” Challenges Participants to Make Beneficial Lifestyle Choices

May 17, 2019

“I took part in every program offered in 2018,” says Betty. “I want to stay active and keep my weight, blood pressure and cholesterol numbers down. Healthy Medina helps with both through education and exercise.”
Read Story
Jordan Pitlor, Cleveland Clinic Children's NICU patient, graduates from Purdue University.

Lifeless Baby Born Without Heartbeat Defies Odds, Becomes Purdue Graduate

May 10, 2019

“The nurses told me later how you simply refused to give up, and that if anyone could succeed, you could."
Read Story
Lifelong health issues can’t keep Medina man down.

Lifelong Health Issues Can’t Keep Medina Man Down

May 10, 2019

“I wouldn’t be here without the great care I’ve received at Medina Hospital. Everyone there is fantastic. The nurses, who are my support group, are amazing – they don’t get enough credit for all they do.”
Read Story
Back to Top