A 21-year-old soldier at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, has benefitted from a cutting-edge technique which restored her left ear that was totally lost after a single-vehicle accident in 2016.
Doctors at the hospital took cartilage from the Private Shamika Burrage’s ribs to craft a new ear and then inserted it under the skin of the private’s forearm so that it could grow and form new arteries, veins and even nerves, reports Newsweek.
“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,” Lieutenant Colonel Owen Johnson III, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at WBAMC, said in a statement.
The doctors attached the new ear and opened up her damaged ear canal to enable her to regain hearing. This surgical procedure is the first of its kind in the military. Private Burrage has two more surgeries before the reconstruction is complete.
“I didn’t want to do [the reconstruction] but gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that it could be a good thing. I was going to go with the prosthetic, to avoid more scarring, but I wanted a real ear,” she said after the surgery.
Private Burrage was referred to the hospital during her rehabilitation following the accident that occurred after her tire blew out causing her vehicle to veer off the road and somersaulted multiple times.
“It’s been a long process for everything, but I’m back,” said Private Burrage from Mississippi who was filled with optimism.