Physicians at an Army medical facility in Texas were able to surgically give a soldier a brand new ear that was “grown” in her arm after she lost the use of her own following a car accident, according to a report Monday.
Surgeons at William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) were able to craft the new ear for Pvt. Shamika Burrage, 21, by using cartilage from her rib cage, which was inserted beneath the skin on her arm in order to develop new blood vessels in a process called neovascularization, according to an article by the U.S. Army detailing the total ear reconstruction.
“(The ear) will have fresh arteries fresh veins and even a fresh nerve so she’ll be able to feel it,” Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, chief, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at WBAMC said.
Burrage said in the report that she “didn’t lose any hearing and (Johnson) opened the canal back up,” which had closed following the car accident.
The surgery was reportedly a first for the military branch and Johnson said the team is hopeful that by the time the entire process is completed, it’ll look and act like an ear that Burrage was born with. She is reportedly slated to undergo two more surgeries.
“As a young active-duty Soldier, they deserve the best reconstruction they can get,” Johnson said.
The crash that affected Burrage’s ear occurred in 2016 while she was returning from leave and en route to Fort Bliss, Texas, the report said. A blown-out tire reportedly caused the car to veer off the road and tumble a number of times before she was thrown from the vehicle. Her pregnant cousin was also in the car, however she was reportedly not significantly injured.
But the then-19-year-old soldier injured her head and spine, got road rash and lost all use of her left ear, according to the report.