Published: Fri, May 11, 2018
Medical | By Jackie Banks

Army Surgeons Grow New Ear in Soldier's Arm for Transplant

Army Surgeons Grow New Ear in Soldier's Arm for Transplant

Doctors at William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) in El Paso, Texas, took cartilage from the soldier's ribs to craft a new ear.

Shamika Burrage lost her entire left ear in a auto accident when she was 19 and there was little hope for recovering from that.

Burrage lost her ear in 2016 at the age of 19 when a tire on the auto she was driving from MS to Fort Bliss, Texas, suddenly blew out, causing the vehicle to flip several times before she was ejected from it.

A soldier who lost her ear will get a new one - once it finishes growing under the skin of her forearm.

In 2016, while Burrage rode with a family member as she returned to Fort Bliss, a tire blew out on the vehicle causing it to skid 700 feet before flipping several times and ejecting her. She pulled through but suffered head injuries, spine fractures, and road rash - and she lost her left ear.

She was later told by doctors that if she hadn't gotten medical attention within 30 minutes she would have bled to death.

Burrage herself said she was hesitant at first but ultimately decided on the reconstruction. "I was just scared at first but wanted to see what he could do", she said, according to the Army's statement.

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"(The ear) will have fresh arteries fresh veins and even a fresh nerve so she'll be able to feel it", Dr. Johnson said.

Afterward, the service member tried out a prosthetic ear but wasn't pleased with how it looked, so she looked into her options with plastic surgery.

After going through months of rehab, Burrage, who wasn't feeling comfortable with her looks, chose to speak with a surgeon regarding her ear options. Shamika Burrage, a supply clerk with 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.

The cartilage was then shaped into an ear in a first-of-its kind effort for the Army.

And Johnson said it just made sense to try it, since Burrage is so young and shouldn't have to deal with an artificial ear for the rest of her life. She has two surgeries left, and is excited to finally be healthy again, "It's been a long process for everything, but I'm back", she said to ABC.

For Burrage, she may have both her ears, but her recovery is not yet over.

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