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Thanksgiving Will Be Extra Tasty For Man Without Sense Of Smell For 10 Years

By Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - This Thanksgiving, a Colorado man will savor the traditional holiday meal more than ever. That's because after 10 long years, Jim Mattos has regained his sense of smell.

"This is the first time I've smelled an orange in 10 years," Mattos said holding the fruit to his nose.

It's a whole, new, mouthwatering world for him. Everywhere he goes, he is bombarded with an array of aromas.

At the University of Colorado Hospital cafeteria, Mattos told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh, "As soon as I walked in, I could just smell food in the air."

Smell Receptor 1PKG
Jim Mattos' Cuban sandwich (credit: CBS)

He ate a Cuban sandwich for the first time and pronounced it "delicious." That's because, by regaining his sense of smell, Mattos is finally able to taste.

"Think when you get a cold how miserable you are," sinus specialist Dr. Vijay Ramakrishnan said that was Mattos every day for the last decade.

Chronic sinus infections and nasal polyps blocked his sense of smell. Without smell, Mattos couldn't fully taste.

"The subtleties of food are essentially lost. Most things become pretty bland," said Mattos.

After 10 years of bland, Mattos had a breakthrough. In April, Ramakrishnan operated on Mattos' sinuses at the UCH.

"In general, it's about 50/50 that they'll get their sense of smell back", said Ramakrishnan.

Dr. Vijay Ramakrishnan
CBS4's Kathy Walsh interviews Dr. Vijay Ramakrishnan (credit: CBS)

It worked for Mattos. In mid-November, he literally woke up and smelled the coffee.

"It really felt like a personal miracle when the sense came back," he said.

Now, Mattos walks his dog with a new appreciation of nature. He hopes his sense of smell is here to stay. Meanwhile, he'll make this Thanksgiving extra special.

"I'm looking forward to apple pie and all of the trimmings, it's going to be wonderful," he said.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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