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The jet engine technology that helped a woman regain her voice

After 35 years of not being able to speak, a stranger suggests to Jan Christian that she visit Dr. Sid Khosla, who trained as an engineer at MIT. The result seems like a miracle.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Random strangers can change your life. So can ear, nose, and throat specialists who trained as engineers at MIT.

This is something 52-year-old Jan Christian discovered when she was in a supermarket and someone heard her attempts to talk. The stranger suggested she visit Dr. Sid M. Khosla.

"I sure wish I could remember what she looked like and knew who she is," Christian told WXIX in Cincinnati.

Khosla studied engineering at MIT and when he came to the University of Cincinnati, he received a grant to study flow in the voice box. In another random occurrence that characterizes this extraordinary story, one of the finest experts in jet noise happened to be at the same university.

So they teamed up to see whether they could help people in Christian's predicament. When she was 17, she was in a car crash, during which she was thrust forward, her throat slamming against the dashboard.

She had not been able to speak since and had endured many visits with doctors who said they couldn't be sure how much damage they might cause if they attempted to operate.

Naturally, once she could talk she offered that sometimes her husband wishes she was quiet again. But, to the untrained ear, what is most beautiful about Christian's voice isn't merely the fact that she can speak at all, but how velvety her voice sounds.

The medical procedure is not easy. It took seven surgeries to restore Christian's ability to talk. The theories behind the surgery compare the wind's ability to affect jet engines and translate that into the wind's effects on speech.

Since the story broke, Khosla has reportedly been inundated with requests similar to Christian's.

Perhaps the random occurrence of her story emerging will help others speak again too.