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Posted on May 12, 2018, 1 a.m.

An army soldier who lost her ear in an accident that could have taken her life in 2006 has grown a new ear in her arm to be used for reconstructive surgery, as reported on ABC News.

Plastic surgeons at William Beaumont Army Medical Center have performed the first ear reconstruction and transplant by Army surgeons. Burrage still requires two more surgeries to complete the process, including one to use epidermis from her forearm to cover scar tissue around her jawline, but she is feeling more and more optimistic and excited to finish the procedure.

Pvt. Shamika Burrage not feeling comfortable with the way she felt was going to opt for a prosthetic to avoid more scarring, but deep down wanted a real ear, and was referred to plastic surgery. Burrage was initially apprehensive, not wanting reconstruction surgery, but after careful thought and consideration came to the conclusion that it would be a good thing.

Once Burrage had said that she would agree to the procedure, the complicated long process began. Cartilage from her rib was removed to be used to carve a new ear, which was then placed into her forearm so that it would grow new blood vessels and have feeling once rehabilitation is complete. After the new ear was fully grown in her forearm it was then removed from her forearm and attached to her head.

This marks the first surgery of its kind for the army to be conducted by army surgeons. Similar transplants and procedures have been performed, such as in 2012 a cancer patient, Sherrie Walter, who had to have an ear removed, and endure a 15 hour procedure to have her neck glands, lymph node tissue, ear and part of skull removed. A widely circulated photo of the Vacanti Mouse with an ear on its back, part of research studying feasibility of growing human ears made from cartilage in the 1990s; and in China there was an attempt to grow an ear in the arm of a man who had been in accident.

John Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Dr. Patrick Byrne pioneered the ear surgery which uses the forearm to grow the ear for reconstruction, such as Walter’s which took 20 months to reconstruct.

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