Texas doctor grows new ear on soldiers forearm

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A U.S. Army soldier who lost her ear in a near-fatal vehicle accident now has a new one.

The ear was later attached to Burrage's head by surgeons at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso.

Private Shamika Burrage, 21, from MS, lost her ear in 2016 when a tire blew out in the auto she was traveling in, causing the vehicle to veer off the road and flip several times.

The surgery is hailed as "the first of its kind".

Losing an ear was not the only injury Burrage suffered on that fateful day of the auto crash.

Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, the chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery explained the reason why the doctors were able to complete this procedure.

Others were less excited about the news. Thankfully, Army doctors had an answer for her that was going to be leagues better than an artificial ear. The procedure, a first of its kind in the Army, involved harvesting cartilage from the soldier's ribs to carve out a replacement, which was then placed under the skin of the forearm to allow the ear to grow. Fortunately, her pregnant cousin, who was in the passenger seat during the crash, managed to escape with minor injuries. Doctors later told her that she would have bled to death if medical attention had taken 30 minutes longer to arrive.

After the accident, Burrage said she didn't feel comfortable with how she looked and was presented with plastic surgery as an option.

Burrage, now 21, was hesitant at first, but ultimately made a decision to go through with the procedure.

"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 remember people walking up to us, asking if we were OK and then I blacked out", she said in the press release. "I was going to go with the prosthetic, to avoid more scarring, but I wanted a real ear". Doctors believe that in about five years, her new ear will be indistinguishable from a regular ear. Though not the first time such a procedure has been carried out-a woman who lost an ear to cancer underwent similar treatment in 2012-this type of total ear reconstruction remains one of the most complicated ear constructions performed in the U.S. As part of the surgery, one of several stages Johnson and his team will undertake, the closed ear canal was reopened, and Burrage says she has experienced no hearing loss.

The skin was allowed to grow around this makeshift ear for a few months, allowing it to form new blood vessels and create some feeling in the air so that it would feel as close to a normal air when it was actually transplanted on her head.

As for Burrage, she has two more surgeries left and says she is feeling optimistic about her future.

"I was coming back from leave and we were around Odessa, Texas", Burrage said in the post.