updated 2/15/2012 11:53:57 AM ET 2012-02-15T16:53:57

A doctor at University Hospital in Ann Arbor has used part of a woman's shoulder blade to reconstruct her voice box.

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The Detroit Free Press reports Wednesday that the 16-hour surgery on Sherry Wittenberg took place in March 2010. A photo taken inside Wittenberg's voice box is on the cover of this month's issue of Laryngoscope, a journal for throat doctors.

The newspaper reports other surgeons have used part of the sternum for transplants.

Wittenberg was diagnosed with a rare, slow-growing cancer in a ring of cartilage that supported her voice box. The 59-year-old who works in the Jackson area had been told she would need to have her larynx removed, causing her to lose her voice.

Instead, Dr. Douglas Chepeha did the surgery and she's able to talk.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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