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Army Doctors Grew a New Ear on the Arm of a Soldier in Need

By: Tomide Olowoyo

Two years ago, Army Pvt. Shamika Burrage almost died when she was ejected from her car during a crash in Texas. Afterward, when she woke up in the hospital, she wasn’t whole. Her entire left ear was gone.

But the now-21-year-old is on the path to recovery. In a procedure hailed as the “first of its kind” in the Army, an ear was reconstructed and “grown” under the skin of her right forearm, according to the Army.

No prosthetics were needed. Instead, plastic surgeons used the soldier’s own cartilage.

The ear was later attached to Burrage’s head by surgeons at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso. The Army said Burrage recovered her hearing and that the operation was a success, according to a statement on Monday.

The total ear reconstruction involved doctors carving a new ear out of cartilage harvested from Burrage’s ribs, the statement said. The ear was then placed under her forearm skin to let it grow.

In the 1990s, a shocking, but real, photo of a mouse with what appeared to be a human ear attached to its back was widely circulated. Now known as the Vacanti Mouse by the Vacanti Brothers, the critter was part of research studying how feasible it was to grow human ears made of cartilage.

Even though this operation costs a lot to get it done, the success has brought to light the interest to implement this kind of operation more on humans, to give new body parts like it was never lost.

REF: www.washingtonpost.com, www.cbsnews.com

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