Michigan girl Charlotte Ponce, who was mauled and disfigured by a raccoon at a young age, now has a new ear growing from her arm thanks to the innovation of surgeons.
As a 3-month-old, Ponce was left alone and brutally attacked by a raccoon, which left her with no nose and a missing ear.
“The raccoon pretty much ate the right side of her face,” Mr. and Mrs. Ponce, the girl's great-aunt and uncle, reported. “Her right side is totally scarred and she’s had three surgeries to remove some of it almost two years ago.”
Following the incident, Ponce’s great-aunt and uncle adopted the girl and her brother and have raised them ever since.
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This past week, plastic surgeon Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate explained that an ear growing on the child’s arm will be helpful. The process is performed by shaping a new ear out of cartilage pulled from the ribs. The cartilage is then placed in the forearm in order for it to grow a layer of natural-looking skin.
Though growing an ear from an arm is not a new procedure, it has only been done twice before in medical history. However, Chaiyasate is pleased with the results so far.
The most difficult part of the process will be to integrate the ear with Ponce’s head – a surgery that will take almost 8 hours. The new ear has to fit the shape of the hole she currently hears sound from and must not stick flat to her skull, which would prevent her from wearing glasses.
“The measurements have to match the other ear,” Chaiyasate said. “It has to have the same angle, the same degree of rotation and projection.”
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Chaiyasate also hopes to create a new ear lobe so that Ponce can wear earrings.
Ponce’s reconstructive surgeries are nearing an end, though her last will have to wait until she is fully grown. At that time, Ponce will receive laser treatments to remove the scars left by the raccoon attack.