Plastic surgeons at William Beaumont Army Medical Center successfully transplanted a new ear on a Soldier who lost her left ear due to a single-vehicle accident. The total ear reconstruction, the first of its kind in the US Army, involved harvesting cartilage from the Soldier's ribs to carve a new ear out of the cartilage, which was then placed under the skin of the forearm to allow the ear to grow. Shamika Burrage, a supply clerk with 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, was traveling with her cousin, driving when her front tire blew, which sent the car off-road. She remembers looking at her cousin who was in the passenger seat, "I looked back at the road as I hit the brakes. I just remember the first flip and that was it." The vehicle skidded for 700 feet before flipping several times and ejecting the Soldier. Burrage's cousin, who was eight months pregnant at the time, managed to only suffer minor injuries while Burrage herself suffered head injuries, compression fractures in the spine, road rash and the total loss of her left ear. Burrage, whose next memory was waking up in a hospital. "I was on the ground, I just looked up and (her cousin) was right there. Then I remember people walking up to us, asking if we were okay and then I blacked out." She was later told by doctors that if she would not have received medical attention for 30 more minutes, she would have bled to death. She was 19 and healthy and had her whole life ahead of her and the army doctors thought why should she have to deal with having an artificial ear for the rest of her life? Thereafter she has explained her options for reconstruction, Burrage was shocked and initially resistant to go through with the total ear reconstruction. The medical procedure involved placing the autologous cartilage into the patient's forearm to allow for neovascularization or the formation of new blood vessels. This technique will allow Burrage to have feeling in her ear once the rehabilitation process is complete.
news courtesy: US Army