Solider gets new ear after doctors grow one on her own arm

Posted May 14, 2018

US Army private Shamika Burrage lost her ear in a major auto crash a couple years ago, but some incredible work by Army plastic surgeons means the 21-year-old will get her left ear back. Her entire left ear was gone. Shamika Burrage said in the statement.

A young soldier who lost her entire left ear in a vehicle crash when she was 19 will soon get a new one thanks to revolutionary new reconstructive surgery. Although Burrage was wary and sceptical at first, she eventually relented and made a decision to give it a shot, saying, "I was going to go with the prosthetic, to avoid more scarring but I wanted a real ear".

At first, Burrage was hesitant when she learned what that would entail.

The surgery was over a year in the making for the 21-year-old. 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.

Dr. Johnson says, "I elevated a pocket of skin, preserving all of the things that were important, and placed the rib cartilage into the skin to let it heal".

The cutting-edge surgery won't only improve the appearance of Burrage's ear, it will also allow her to hear because Johnson was able to open the ear canal back up.

Burrage says, "My front tire blew, we skidded about 700 feet before we actually flipped". Her cousin, who was eight months pregnant at the time, had only minor injuries, while Burrage suffered the devastating head injuries as well as compression fractures to her spine and road rash. "I was just scared at first but wanted to see what (the doctor) could do".

"As a young active-duty Soldier, they deserve the best reconstruction they can get", said Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, the chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the medical centre.

Doctors later told her that if medical treatment had been delayed for 30 more minutes, she would have bled to death. Nearly two years after her accident, plastic surgeons at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center have given the now 21-year-old a new ear that was grown from her own cartilage and tissue. However, the resounding success of Burrage's surgery means that U.S. army surgeons can now restore and recreate cartilaginous body parts for soldiers in service. This will enable her to having feeling in her ear once the rehabilitation process is complete. In addition to the transplant, epidermis from her forearm will be used to cover scar tissue in the area immediately around her left jawline, the statement said.

Burrage did not want to go through with the surgery because of the risks involved.

"It's been a long process for everything, but I'm back", she said.