Smoker gets new tongue grafted from his arm

A smoker had his tongue removed and replaced with part of his arm after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Michael LeFort was given just two months to live and had 95% of his tongue cut out in a last-ditch attempt to save his life.

Now the 62-year-old says he has hairs on his tongue after medics built him a new one from the flesh of his arm.

Michael had been a heavy cigar smoker before being hit with tongue cancer in 2003.

He had gone to the doctor with what he believed to be a mouth ulcer.

But a biopsy revealed that he had mouth cancer – and a choice of having half his tongue amputated or just two months to live.

Eventually, medics were forced to remove all but a tiny stump of his tongue.

That left him facing being fed through a tube and being unable to speak for the rest of his life.

However, the father-of-two was offered the chance to undergo risky surgery to graft flesh from his arm to construct anew tongue.

During the 15-hour operation, doctors had to break his jaw, cheek bones and teeth to allow them to sew the 400 joins needed to construct his new tongue.

Now, despite being left with as light speech impediment, he is able to eat through his mouth and communicate with his family.

The marketing consultant, from Bournemouth, Dorset, said: ‘My tongue doesn’t look like a tongue and it has hairs on it, which is a bit strange.

‘But it means I’m able to speak, although I have a bit of an impediment, and that I can eat through my mouth.’

He urges smokers to try to quit and be spared his ordeal – or worse.

He said: ‘You always think, ‘It’ll never happen to me.’ That’s what I thought.’

On Wednesday – No Smoking Day – marketing consultant Michael will be launching the NicoQUIT inhaler which works on the principle of aromatherapy, using a specially developed herbal essence which targets the brain’s craving centre.

The product, priced £14.95, is 100% natural and contains no nicotine, drugs or chemicals, and also has no side-effects.

It is not yet available in the shops but can be bought online at www.nicoquitnow.com.

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