Born at only 23 weeks, Shawn Friedman’s parents were no strangers to hospital visits. However, when they noticed their baby wasn’t eating or gaining weight, they knew they had reason to be concerned. After several appointments and not many answers, they were referred to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where Shawn was under the care of Karen Zur, MD, director of the Pediatric Voice Program at Children's Hospital. The day after Dr. Zur met him, Shawn had emergency surgery to have a cyst removed. The cyst was obstructing his airway so there was not much space for air to pass through.
During that surgery, Dr. Zur noticed that Shawn had a paralyzed vocal cord. At three years old, Shawn’s parents decided that his quiet, raspy voice was beginning to impair him socially. Dr. Zur performed an innovative and delicate surgery called recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) reinnervation, also known as nerve rewiring, which ultimately lead to Shawn finding his voice.
After receiving the first surgery that saved his life and the second surgery that restored his voice, Shawn eagerly began kindergarten earlier this month.
Read more about Shawn’s story from this Fox 29 segment and be sure to watch this video to hear Shawn’s amazing progress for yourself.