Two years ago, Army Pvt. Shamika Burrage was thrown out of her car in a car crash and when she woke up in the hospital her entire left ear was gone.
Today, Burrage is on her path to recovery with a fully functioning ear. Surgeons at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso constructed a new ear out of cartilage from Burrage’s ribs and grew it under the skin of her forearm until it was ready for reattachment.
The procedure, dubbed “first of it’s kind“, was a success, as Burrage’s hearing was fully recovered.
“The procedure is one of the most complicated ear constructions in the United States and allows for the formation of new blood vessels in the cartilage,” according to ABC News.
This accident was almost fatal for Burrage; doctors said if the paramedics would have come thirty minutes later than they did, she would not have made it.
Not totally comfortable with how she looked, she was presented with plastic surgery, “I was going to go with the prosthetic, to avoid more scarring but I wanted a real ear,” she said.
However, “the idea of growing ears is not new to science or medicine,” according to the Washington Post.
In the 1990s, scientists grew an ear made of cartilage under the skin of of mouse to research if this concept was realistic to practice, and in 2012, an ear was grown under the skin of the forearm of a women who lost her ear to cancer.
Although Burrage’s hearing might be functioning again, her recovery isn’t done yet. She has two surgeries left, and is excited to finally be healthy again, “It’s been a long process for everything, but I’m back,” she said to ABC.