Army Pvt. Shamika Burrage, 21-year-old, had a car accident two years ago in Texas. Her entire left ear was gone. An ear was reconstructed and “grown” under the skin of her right forearm until was ready to be implanted. The total ear reconstruction involved doctors carving a new ear out of cartilage harvested from Burrage’s ribs. The procedure allowed for the formation of new blood vessels in the cartilage. This means Burrage will also have feeling in her new ear once rehabilitation is complete.
After the accident, Burrage said she didn’t feel comfortable with how she looked and was presented with plastic surgery as an option. “I was going to go with the prosthetic, to avoid more scarring but I wanted a real ear,” Burrage remembers. This was the first time this kind of ear reconstruction was attempted by an Army surgeon. Previously, in the past, doctors in China attempted to grow an ear in the arm of a man who had been in a car accident. “The whole goal is by the time she’s done with all this, it looks good, it’s sensate, and in five years if somebody doesn’t know her they won’t notice,” Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at William Beaumont Army Medical Center estimated.