ST. LOUIS – A woman born in the Caribbean with a rare condition that throttled her voice flew to St. Louis earlier this year for life-changing surgery.

Janiyah Horne grew up on the island of St. Vincent barely being able to speak above a whisper. According to her mother, Janiyah struggled in school. Her mother also worried about her daughter’s safety.

“From birth, when I found out that my daughter could not make any sound when she cries, it was troubling,” Janice Horne said.

  • Janiyah and Janice Horne meet Dr. Jack Eisenbeis
  • Janiyah and Janice Horne at the Saint Louis Zoo.

Janiyah’s condition got the attention of the World Pediatric Project, which agreed to fly her and her mother to the United States for help. However, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed her surgery, meaning she was now an adult patient.

The World Pediatric Project reached out to SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital about Janiyah’s case. Otolaryngologist Dr. Jack Eisenbeis agreed to meet Janiyah to see if he could diagnose her condition and how best to treat her.

On Feb. 11, 2022, Janiyah and her mother arrived in St. Louis and met with Dr. Eisenebis for the first time. He diagnosed Janiyah with “a congenital laryngeal web, which restricts the opening of the windpipe.”

It’s estimated that about one in every 10,000 people is born with this affliction. It’s even rarer to find an adult with the problem since most are diagnosed shortly after birth and have surgery to correct it.

Five days after the meeting, Dr. Eisenbeis operated on Janiyah. Dr. Eisenbeis said his hope would be that Janiyah could have normal conversations with people around her and that she could call out to someone if she was in another room.

Following surgery and several weeks of working with speech therapists, Janiyah’s voice is doing much better and she can communicate clearly and effectively.

The World Pediatric Project covered the costs of bringing Janiyah and her family to the states. The SLUCare Physician Group agreed to waive the fees associated with the surgery.

“My daughter can speak. You can understand the words that she’s saying, and she can sing,” Janice said. “To God be the glory.”