Army doctors grew a soldier a new ear... in her forearm - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Army doctors grew a soldier a new ear... in her forearm

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Autologous cartilage in the shape of an ear growing in a patient's forearm is shown as part of cutting-edge total ear reconstruction performed on a 21-year-old Soldier at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, the 1st of its kind at WBAMC. U.S. Army Photo Autologous cartilage in the shape of an ear growing in a patient's forearm is shown as part of cutting-edge total ear reconstruction performed on a 21-year-old Soldier at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, the 1st of its kind at WBAMC. U.S. Army Photo
EL PASO, Texas -

A United States Army Private became the first in U.S. Army history to undergo a total ear reconstruction. 

According to the U.S. Army, plastic surgeons at William Beaumont Army Medical Center successfully transplanted a new ear on Pvt. Shamika Burrage who lost her left ear due to a near-fatal single-vehicle accident. 

The reconstruction involved harvesting cartilage from Pvt. Burrage's ribs to carve a new ear out of the cartilage. That cartilage was then placed under the skin of the forearm to allow the ear to grow. 

"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," said Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, chief, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, WBAMC. "As a young active-duty soldier, they deserve the best reconstruction they can get." 

Pvt. Burrage was returning to Fort Bliss, Texas, after visiting family in Mississippi. On the drive back, a tire blowout caused her vehicle to skid 700 feet before flipping several times and ejecting Burrage. 

"I was on the ground, I just looked up and (her cousin) was right there," said Pvt. Burrage. "Then I remember people walking up to us, asking if we were okay and then I blacked out," Burrage said he next memory was waking up in a hospital. 

Her cousin was 8 months pregnant at the time of the crash and managed to only suffer minor injuries, while Burrage suffered head injuries, compression fractures in the spine, road rash, and the total loss of her left ear. 

Pvt. Barrage was told she would have bled to death if she did not receive medical attention for 30 more minutes. After rehabilitation, she began to seek counseling due to emotions caused by the accident and its effects on her appearance. 

"I didn't feel comfortable with the way I looked so the provider referred me to plastic surgery," said Burrage. 

"She was 19 and healthy and had her whole life ahead of her," said Johnson. "Why should she have to deal with having an artificial ear for the rest of her life?"

Burrage's new ear will have fresh arteries, fresh veins, and even a fresh nerve. Johnson also reopened Burrage's ear canal, allowing her to hear again. 

Pvt. Burrage, now 21, has only two surgeries remaining. She said she is feeling more optimistic and excited to finish the reconstruction.

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

Information courtesy: U.S. Army

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