EL PASO, Texas (CBS Local) – An Army soldier who lost her ear received a revolutionary transplant in which doctors grew her a brand new ear on the patient’s own arm.
Plastic surgeons at William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) in El Paso successfully transplanted the organ onto Shamika Burrage after the Army private lost her left ear in a one-car accident while on leave in 2016. Instead of finding a donor, surgeons took cartilage from Burrage’s ribs and carved it into the shape of an ear. The “ear” was then placed under the skin in the 21-year-old’s forearm so it could grow into a fully formed ear.
“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,” WBAMC chief plastic surgeon Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III said in an Army press release. “As a young active-duty Soldier, they deserve the best reconstruction they can get.”
Johnson added that the year-long process will also give Burrage fresh arteries, nerves and veins, which will allow the young soldier to feel her new ear as if she never lost it.
“It’s been a long process for everything, but I’m back,” Burrage said.
The 21-year-old will need two more surgeries before the homegrown ear transplant is officially completed.