In today’s crazy science news, army surgeons successfully grew a new ear inside of a soldier’s arm. According to the U.S. Army’s website, Shamika Burrage underwent the surgery, the first of its kind in the army, after she lost her left ear in a car crash in 2016.
When her tire blew out on a trip from Mississippi to Fort Bliss, Texas, Burrage’s car flipped and ejected the young soldier resulting in head injuries, spinal fractures, and the loss of her ear. "I didn't feel comfortable with the way I looked so the provider referred me to plastic surgery," she told the U.S. Army.
Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, a chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery, offered her an option called “total ear reconstruction.” "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," she said. "I was going to go with the prosthetic, to avoid more scarring, but I wanted a real ear. I was just scared at first but wanted to see what he could do."
The procedure would entail making a whole new ear from cartilage taken from her rib and placing it in her forearm to help the ear “grow” and form blood vessels. "[The ear] will have fresh arteries, fresh veins and even a fresh nerve so she'll be able to feel it," Johnson said on the U.S. Army's website. "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."
This procedure isn’t the first surgery of its kind, however. Surgeons at Johns Hopkins performed something similar back in 2012, according to CBS, replacing a woman’s ear under the skin of her forearm.
The ear has since been attached after Johnson reopened Burrage's ear canal, which had closed up due to the accident. She hasn’t lost her ability to hear out.
Burrage has two surgeries left before the reconstruction of her new ear is complete. "It's been a long process for everything, but I'm back," she said.