An Army private has received a brand-new ear transplant that was created using her own cartilage and grown under her arm.
Give me the details:
Army Pvt. Shamika Burrage was returning to Fort Bliss, Texas after leave when a devastating car accident changed her life. At just 19, Burrage was left with head injuries, spine compression fractures and the loss of her left ear after a tire blowout caused the vehicle to spin out of control.
Two years later, Burrage has survived multiple surgeries and agreed to undergo ear reconstruction surgery in an unprecedented procedure. William Beaumont Army Medical Center plastic surgeons transplanted a complete ear reconstruction that was made using cartilage harvested from under Burrage's ribs. The cartilage was carved into an ear shape and then placed under the skin on her arm to grow.
What did she say?
"I didn't want to do (the reconstruction) but gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that it could be a good thing. I was going to go with the prosthetic, to avoid more scarring but I wanted a real ear," Burrage said.
How will the ear feel?
The goal was to create a real ear with normal sensation and the ability to hear. Burrage didn't lose her hearing in the accident, but her ear canal closed up due to the trauma. Surgeons reopened her ear canal and used a procedure that will let the ear form new blood vessels. While it will take time for the ear to rehabilitate, her doctors say that in five years, no one will know the difference.
"(The ear) will have fresh arteries, fresh veins and even a fresh nerve so she'll be able to feel it," chief of plastic surgery and reconstruction Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III said.
Futuristic medical procedures are happening now thanks to technology. While we're all nervous about the future, this story is something to celebrate.
"Technology is going to be great and will free us ... or enslave us. It is the source of a lot of hope and a lot of anxiety in our culture right now," Glenn said. "There [are] things on the horizon that are absolutely mind-boggling in a good way."